Islam not Compatible with German Constitution, says far-right AfD party

April 18, 2016

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) said on Sunday Islam is not compatible with the German constitution and vowed to press for bans on minarets and burqas at its party congress in two weeks’ time.

The AfD punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats in three regional elections last month, profiting from popular angst about how Germany can cope with an influx of migrants, over a million of whom arrived last year.

“Islam is in itself a political ideology that is not compatible with the constitution,” AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

“We are in favor of a ban on minarets, on muezzins and a ban on full veils,” added Storch, who is a member of the European Parliament.

Merkel’s conservatives have also called for an effective ban on the burqa, saying the full body covering worn by some Muslim women should not be worn in public. But they have not said Islam is incompatible with Germany’s constitution.

The AfD’s rise, which has coincided with strong gains by other European anti-immigrant parties including the National Front in France, has punctured the centrist consensus around which the mainstream parties have formed alliances in Germany.

Last month, the party grabbed 24 percent of the vote in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, surpassing even the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s coalition partner in Berlin. The AfD, founded in 2013, also performed strongly in two other states.

The party’s rise has been controversial. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has said Germany’s far-right, led by the AfD party, is using language similar to that of Hitler’s Nazis.

Such accusations have not swayed the party from its anti-immigration course.

“Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but rather intellectually always associated with the takeover of the state,” said Alexander Gauland, who leads the AfD in Brandenburg.

“That is why the Islamization of Germany is a danger,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Austria Passes ‘Law on Islam’ Requiring Austrian Muslim Groups To Use German-Language Qurans

Austria’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.

The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Koran.

The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.

“We want an Islam of the Austrian kind, and not one that is dominated by other countries,” said Sebastian Kurz, the 28-year-old conservative foreign minister – formally the minister for foreign affairs and integration – who is easily Austria’s most popular politician.

Austria’s half a million Muslims make up about 6 percent of the population and are overwhelmingly the families of Turkish migrant workers. Many of their imams are sent and financed by Turkey’s state religious affairs directorate, the Diyanet.

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Diyanet, said before the law was passed that “with this draft legislation, religious freedoms in Austria will have fallen back a hundred years.”

Austria’s biggest Islamic organization, IGGiO, accepted the law, but its youth arm opposed it, as did the Turkish-financed Turkish-Islamic Union in Austria (ATIB), which runs many mosques and has vowed to challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court.

RELATIONS UNPROBLEMATIC

While the government has said Islamist militancy is on the rise, and around 170 people have left Austria to join jihadists in Syria or Iraq, Austria has experienced no Islamist violence of note, and relations with the Muslim community have been relatively unproblematic. Unlike France, Austria has not banned Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public.

Nevertheless, the opposition far-right Freedom Party, which opposed the bill as too mild, attracts about 25 percent support with an anti-immigrant stance that is also highly critical of Islam. Meanwhile, the ruling Socialist and conservative parties struggle to muster a majority together.

Austria’s neighbor Germany has also experienced an upsurge of anti-Islam sentiment in the form of the weekly PEGIDA protests in Dresden.

These have, however, been met with much larger anti-racism demonstrations and a robust response from Chancellor Angela Merkel, mindful of Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, who asserted that “Islam belongs to Germany.”

The Austrian government says the new law strengthens Muslims’ legal status, for example by guaranteeing Islamic pastoral care in hospitals and the army, and protecting Muslims’ rights to eat and produce food according to Islamic rules.

The bill updates a “Law on Islam” dating from 1912 that was intended to guarantee the rights of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Muslims in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Turkey’s Gormez, who had attended centenary commemorations for the 1912 law, said its replacement would disregard the “morals and laws of coexistence” that Austria had established a century ago. (Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan in Paris and Ece Toksabay in Istanbul; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Reactions to developments in Egypt from around the world

Reactions on Friday around the world to developments in Egypt following clashes in which hundreds of people were killed and thousands injured:

 

EUROPEAN UNION

 

European leaders spoke Friday about the need for a coordinated EU response to the violence in Egypt and agreed there should be a meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers next week. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for an end to violence and a resumption of dialogue in Egypt. The German government statement said Merkel told Hollande that Germany, one of Egypt’s biggest trading partners, would “re-evaluate” its relations with Cairo in light of this week’s bloodshed. Hollande also discussed the violence with Italian Premier Enrico Letta and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah voiced support for Egypt’s military-backed interim government, saying the kingdom stands by the country in its fight against “terrorism and strife” — an apparent reference to deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement. In a televised statement, Abdullah called for honest people and intellectuals “to stand firmly against all those who try to shake the stability of a country that has always led the Arab and Islamic worlds.”

 

TURKEY

Turkish officials kept up their criticism of the military government’s crackdown, with President Abdullah Gul saying that “all that happened in Egypt is a shame for Islam and the Arab world.” Turkey and Egypt recalled their ambassadors for consultations late Thursday as their relationship worsened.

 

TUNISIA

About 1,500 people flooded the main avenue in central Tunis, many of them pouring out of the capital’s most important mosque. They gathered in a large square in front of the municipal theater, shouting support for the Egyptian people, especially supporters of Morsi, and condemning the Egyptian military and the U.S. The hour-long protest was peaceful.

 

In Little Egypt, Echoes From Home

Little Egypt, NYC: Reaction to recent events in Egypt.

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel dismisses the idea of segregated sports education for Muslim boys and girls

April 6

 

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) dismissed the idea of gender segregation. Her government spokesman Streiter described the segregation of Muslim boys and girls as “the absolute wrong signal for the integration policy of Germany”.

 

Before, Peer Steinbrück the chancellor candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) refused a clear statement; neither denying nor welcoming gender segregation.

Chancellor Merkel and the Debate on integration

May 14

 

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has publicly expressed support for the view that Islam is integral part of German society. Doing so, she openly disagreed with opinions voiced in the last months by the Minister of Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) and the head of political Union parties CDU/CSU in the parliament, Volker Kauder (CDU). In front of the pupils of a Berlin school, chancellor Merkel talked about the significant presence of Muslims in German society and their belonging to it. Muslims are part of today’s environment, and many of them are German citizens, Merkel declared. Thus, Islam becomes a part of society, too. Many things known today in Germany have been transported through Islam.

 

This is the first time after the pro Islam speech of former German president Christian Wulff (CDU) in 2010, that chancellor Merkel speaks in favor of Islam as an integral part of Germany. Minister of Interior Friedrich had repeatedly disagreed with recognizing Islam as a part of Germany, emphasizing the Christian-Jewish occidental culture of Germany.

Youth Integration Summit 2012

April 17

 

The Youth Integration Summit 2012 has started this week in Berlin. Since 2010 young people from every part of Germany are invited to attend this annual initiative. Among the participants there are a great number of young migrants of different backgrounds. Participants are expected to discuss aspects such as “Education and Integration”, “Civic Engagement and Integration”, “Media and Integration” and “Inter-generational Conflicts” in different workshops. In her opening speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed integration as a responsibility for the whole society.

 

However, there is a degree of criticism around the initiative. Representatives of the opposition Green party have criticized the Youth Integration Summit as an insubstantial event, which gathers engaged youths without concrete aims and leaves them with a little more than a family picture for the gallery.

Interior Minister Friedrich Reignites Islam Debate

4 March 2011

Germany’s new Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich reignited a bitter debate over Islam this week after he said the religion did not “belong” in the country, prompting a call on Friday for him to give up charge of the government’s Islam conference.

During his first public appearance as interior minister on Thursday, Friedrich responded to questions by reporters about the shooting of two US airmen in Frankfurt by an alleged Islamist with an inflammatory statement. He said Muslims living in Germany were part of society, “but that Islam belongs in Germany is something that has no historical foundation.”

On Friday, Free Democrat (FDP) and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger criticized her new fellow cabinet member and member of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Meanwhile a chorus of opposition politicians lambasted Friedrich, among them centre-left Social Democrat Dieter Wiefelspütz who characterized his statement as “rubbish.”

German Media Roundup: Frankfurt’s Lone Terrorist

4 March 2011

What caused a young man in Frankfurt to turn to radical Islam and kill two US airmen? Newspapers in The Local’s media roundup on Friday try to make sense of a senseless act.

A top German lawmaker called Friday for the expulsion of “hate preachers” in the wake of the shooting.

“Religious freedom does not mean the freedom to do anything you like,” Wolfgang Bosbach, the parliamentary interior policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), told the regional daily the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Meanwhile, the head of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, called for 2,000 additional staff to monitor extremist websites.

“Only via a massively increased police presence on the internet can the emergence of hate preachers or messages from Islamists be discovered in time,” he told the paper. “If it is technically possible, internet sites from the Islamist scene must be blocked.”

The Leipziger Volkszeitung said the shooting had changed the quality of the threat of Islamist terrorism.

“The security authorities could not hinder an Islamist attack in Germany that cost human lives,” the regional daily wrote. “However, it wasn’t al-Qaida or another terrorist organisation behind it, but rather someone acting alone. Of course, there will never be complete protection from disturbed attackers, but there must be consequences in light of this new kind of perpetrator. Otherwise there’s only helplessness.” (…)

German-Turkish Comedy Looks at the Lighter Side of Immigration

16 February 2011

“Almanya,” a Turkish-German film debuting at the Berlinale, has received rave reviews for its humorous and sensitive take on immigration and integration. The Local spoke with the sisters behind the movie about learning to live and laugh together.

Chancellor Angela Merkel may have recently declared that multiculturalism is officially dead in Germany, but Turkish-German sisters Yasemin and Nesrin Samdereli would disagree. “No. The patient isn’t dead yet. We’re right in the middle of it,” said Yasemin, who co-wrote the film with her sister, and is also the the director. “It takes time and effort.”

The duo, whose parents were among the many Turkish immigrants to arrive in post-war Germany as “guest workers,” used their memories of growing up as foreigners to show a more positive side of the story than has often been portrayed on film.

The plot centres on fictional Turkish guest worker number one-million-and-one, Hüseyin Yilmaz, who decides after retirement to take his family back to Turkey to rediscover their Anatolian roots. The children are transported back to their childhood memories of arriving in their new German home – a place full of blond giants who eat pork, walk rats on leashes, speak gibberish and worship a terrifying wooden figure nailed to a cross.

Sarkozy claims multiculturalism “clearly a failure”

News Agencies – February 10, 2011

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has declared that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or former leaders who have condemned it. He responded to the policy which advocates that host societies welcome and foster distinct cultural and religious immigrant groups.“The French national community cannot accept a change in its lifestyle, equality between men and women … freedom for little girls to go to school,” he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s ex-prime minister John Howard and Spanish ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar have also recently said multicultural policies have not successfully integrated immigrants.
Mr. Sarkozy added that “our Muslim compatriots must be able to practise their religion, as any citizen can,” but he noted “we in France do not want people to pray in an ostentatious way in the street.” French far-right leader Marine Le Pen late last year came under fire for comparing Muslims praying in the streets outside overcrowded mosques in France to the Nazi occupation.