Germany’s Muslims Angered By Cardinal’s Remarks

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) harshly criticized the Christian churches after high-ranking German clergyman Cardinal Karl Lehmann last week spoke out against Islam enjoying equal status to Christianity. “The (Christian) churches would like to ban Islam to the lower leagues,” Aiman Mazyek, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, told the Sunday edition of Berlin’s Tagesspiegel. Mazyek also pointed out that Germany’s Basic Law ascribes equality to all religions, saying that there were no legal grounds for granting Christianity special legal status.

Experts and Army Meet to Discuss Muslim Concerns

KOBLENZ – The Civic Education Centre (Zentrum Innere F_hrung) of the German Armed Forces, Catholic and Evangelical camp priests, the women’s commissioners and the deputy chairman of the Central Council of the Muslims in Germany held a discussion in Koblenz. Among the topics were the appointment of a “camp imam” for the religious support of Muslims in the army, the preparation of soldiers for duty in Afghanistan, and the insufficient attention paid to Muslim women’s issues in the ongoing official integration discourse.

Participation Instead of Assimilation

Social participation is one of the immigrants’ most important demands. Most of them do not want to be integrated, if that means completely giving up their culture, language and religion. Most concepts, however, ignore the immigrants’ opinion and expectations altogether. “Do not threaten immigrants with sanctions and deportation”, asked the T_rkische Gemeinde in Deutschland (TGD) a few months ago. “The goals of integration cannot be achieved in any case by threats, but by providing equal opportunities in education and on the job market, by equal treatment, participation, co-operation and by the inclusion of the immigrants in the development process.” To date, not even the linguistic, cultural and religious variety of immigrants has been taken sufficient notice of in German society and in its social discourse, according to the TGD. Islam as a component of millions of immigrants’ religious identity represents a distinctive challenge to integration into German society, shaped as it is by its Christian past and present. “The legitimate fear of many Muslims, namely that integration would lead to assimilation, must therefore be pre-empted in the context of the integration process, with confidence-building measures”, insists the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. Conversely, two sets of developments have been observed so far. Some immigrants make do without their cultural-religious traditions, and thereby hope to secure faster social acceptance and integration. For another group, the fear of losing their traditions leads them to a renewed interest in religion.

Muslim Groups Slam German State’s Immigrant Test

BERLIN – Islamic groups on Monday vowed to fight a test introduced by a German state this month for potential immigrants which they said singled out Muslims for discrimination. “We will not rest until the state government withdraws the questionnaire,” the spokesman for the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Mounir Azzaoui, said. The conservative-ruled southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg introduced the battery of questions January 1 in which candidates for immigration who are considered unlikely to integrate are asked about their personal views.