“Merkel is afraid” — Interview with Geert Wilders

9 November 2010

In a SPIEGEL interview, Dutch Islam-opponent Geert Wilders discusses his fight for a Koran ban, why German Chancellor Angela Merkel is running scared on the immigration issue and his belief that the Netherlands’ debate over Muslims has now crossed the border into Germany.
(…)
SPIEGEL: Are you familiar with this quote from the Prophet? “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to be their king, bring them here and slay them before me”?
Wilders: I have read many such passages.
SPIEGEL: The Prophet cited in this case was Jesus, from Luke, Chapter 19, Verse 27.
(…)

Muslims call for public service immigrant quota in Germany

4 November 2010

Central Council of Muslims chairman Aiman Mazyek told Thursday’s edition of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that people with foreign names and immigration backgrounds were often passed over for public service jobs despite having the same or even better qualifications than native German candidates.

A quota would be an appropriate way to level the playing field, he said. Germany’s police forces had already opened themselves up to immigrants, which had benefited the services – and could be improved with quotas – he said. “Why should the experiences of the police not be applied elsewhere?” Mazyek asked.

His remarks followed a national “integration summit” held on Wednesday and attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, immigrant community leaders – including Mazyek – and state and municipal officials.

Merkel: Public service needs more immigrants

1 November 2010

Only two weeks after saying attempts to forge a multicultural society had failed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for more immigrants in the country’s civil service and deplored discrimination in employment.

“We currently have a real under-representation of people of immigrant origin in the public service and we have to change that,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast. She added, “When someone has a name that doesn’t sound very German, for certain jobs it often happens that they have difficulties in being employed.”

Merkel was speaking ahead of an “integration summit” she chaired on Wednesday with 115 representatives of public services and other organisations concerned with integrating immigrants to draw up an action plan.

This comes just after Merkel had told a meeting of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party that “Multikulti”, the concept that “we are now living side by side and are happy about it,” does not work. “This approach has failed, totally,” she said on 14 October.

Searching for facts in Germany’s integration debate

12 October 2010

Politicians too show a weakness for the periodic departure from reality, particularly when there are votes to be gained — and, as recent experience has shown in Germany, particularly when the subject is the integration of Muslim immigrants. The most recent example was provided by Horst Seehofer, who is not only governor of Bavaria, Germany’s most economically powerful state, but is also the head of the Christian Social Union, a party which is tightly allied with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU) and has three ministers in her cabinet.

“It is clear that immigrants from other cultures such as Turkey and Arabic countries have more difficulties (with integration),” Seehofer intoned in an interview with the newsmagazine Focus published on Monday. “From that I draw the conclusion that we don’t need additional immigration from other cultures.” The statement, predictably, drew all manner of protests from Germany’s opposition, particularly from the center-left Social Democrats and from the Green Party.

As it happens, there is no Muslim immigration to Germany to speak of. In 2009, a total of 721,000 foreigners immigrated to Germany according to the German Federal Statistical Office — and 734,000 moved away. Of those who arrived, a mere 30,000 were from Turkey, roughly equal to the average number of people of Turkish origin who have left Germany annually in recent years. The rest of the Top Five source countries for immigrants to Germany were Poland, Romania, the United States and Bulgaria, hardly countries known for their outsized Muslim populations.

Sharia law being used in Germany in Muslims’ domestic disputes

9 October 2010
A leading law professor has contradicted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement that Sharia law was not practiced in Germany, saying a variety of Sharia-based rulings were being made all the time. “We have been practising Islamic law for years, and that is a good thing,” Hilmar Krüger, professor for foreign private law at Cologne University, told Der Spiegel magazine.
Family and inheritance rulings were often made according to Sharia law, he said, listing a range of examples. Women who are in polygamous marriages legal in their countries of origin can make claims of their husbands in Germany regardless of the fact that their marriages would not be lawful here. They can claim maintenance from their husbands and a share of an eventual inheritance, said Krüger.
Erlangen lawyer and Islam scholar Mathias Rohe told the magazine that the use of laws from various countries was an expression of globalisation. “We use Islamic law just as we use French law,” he said. While Canada, for example, does not recognise any foreign laws, the German legal structure allows some to be upheld — as long as they do not contradict the constitution.

Two former Guantanamo inmates arrive in Germany

16 September 2010
After months of negotiations between Berlin and Washington, two former inmates of the Guantanamo prison arrived in Germany on Thursday. German officials hope to swiftly integrate them into society. A spokesman for the Hamburg government confirmed that Ahmed Mohammed al-Shurfa, a stateless man of Palestinian descent born in Saudi Arabia, had arrived in the northern German port city.
Later on Thursday, a second former Guantanamo prisoner — 36-year-old Mahmoud Salim al-Ali of Syria — arrived in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in central-western Germany, an official with the state’s Interior Ministry said. “According to our knowledge, he does not pose any threat,2 a spokesman said. “We haven’t brought a sleeper into our country,” he said, referring to the phenomenon of potential terrorists like the 9/11 cell that infiltrate society and appear to be normal residents before they are activated.
Earlier this year, Germany said it was prepared to host two former inmates from the Guantanamo prison. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said the decision had been made for “humanitarian reasons.” “I’m not only the federal interior minister, but also a human being and a Christian,” the politician, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said as he announced his decision in July.

Prize for cartoonist Westergaard: Muslims disappointed of Merkel

8 September 2010
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has awarded the Media Prize M100 to the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. In 2005, Westergaard had drawn a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, showing him with a bomb in his turban, which had subsequently caused major upheavals in Europe and the Islamic world. He has received death threats and has been under police protection ever since.
In her speech, Merkel recognised Westergaard’s courage and demanded the consequences of the cartoon publication to be taken as a reminder. Europe should be a place where freedom of speech is possible; “the secret of freedom is courage”, the Chancellor said.
Meanwhile, the Central Council of Muslims condemned the award. Chairman Aiman Mazyek said that such an honour is highly problematic at a time that is already charged and heated. Also the Green Party criticised the move.

Trial against xenophobic courtroom murderer of Marwa al-Sherbini to start Monday

Under tight security, a man stands trial in Dresden on Monday for the murder of a pregnant Egyptian woman that stoked anger against Germany and its media in her home country and the wider Muslim world. The defendant, for legal reasons named only as Alex W, is accused of stabbing to death Marwa al-Sherbini on July 1 in a courtroom.

Alex W, classed by police as xenophobic, attacked Sherbini during an appeal hearing against a fine he was ordered to pay for verbally abusing the woman at a city playground in August 2008. Sherbini, who was pregnant with her second child, was in court with her husband and 3-year-old son when the defendant lunged at her with a knife he had smuggled into the building.

The German and Egyptian governments are to keep in touch during the trial of Alex W, a German national charged with the July 1 murder of Egyptian Marwa al-Sherbini, 31, a senior aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday. Maria Boehmer, Germany’s commissioner for minority affairs, made the announcement after a telephone conversation with the Egyptian ambassador to Germany, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, ahead of the court case due to start Monday.

Qaeda threatens Germany to change policies or face consequences

Al-Qaeda warned Germans on Friday to change their government in the September 27 election, saying they will face a “bad awakening” if they do not, according to two intelligence monitoring services.

Germany was also told to withdraw its 4,200 troops from Afghanistan or face being attacked at home, the US-based groups said. In video footage a man identified as Abu Talha the German, and speaking in German, says that if Chancellor Angela Merkel is re-elected, “bitter times await the Germans,” according to IntelCenter and the SITE Intelligence Group. He asks: “Mrs Merkel, what is the logical outcome reaped by the British and Spanish conservatives by their support for the Iraq war?” in an apparent reference to attacks in Madrid and London in 2004 and 2005. He appears to suggest that if German voters do not heed his warnings, Al-Qaeda will act within a fortnight. Germany’s interior ministry said on Friday there was an increased risk of attacks on German soil ahead of the elections, and said security at airports and train stations had been boosted. Addressing German Muslims Abu Talha says: “Al-Qaeda asks you to stay away from all that is not necessary in the two weeks that follow the elections, if the German people does not decide to withdraw its soldiers from Afghanistan. Keep your children near you in this period.” Abu Talha, whose real name is said to be Bekkay Harrach, stands in front of a red backdrop, wearing a jacket and tie. He is said by the German authorities to be a native of Morocco, and in his early 30s, who has lived intermittently in Bonn and is now thought to be in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. In the footage he asks Muslim youths in Germany to let Al-Qaeda act first if the jihad were to begin in Germany, and says they will be told if action is required afterwards. He also said the city of Kiel “will remain a peaceful city, no matter how long the conflict.” Abu Talha says that if Germany withdraws from Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda will no longer target it. “If the Germans are inclined now towards peace, then the mujahideen will be inclined towards peace, as well. With the departure of the last German soldier from Afghanistan, the last mujahid in Germany will be withdrawn. “It is time for Germany to know that Afghanistan is not the seventeenth province of Germany and that it is not the ‘beer tent’ where to hold the ‘Oktoberfest’ throughout the year,” he added. The authenticity of the nearly 26-minute video cannot be independently verified. Abu Talha first appeared in a video entitled “Germany?s Rescue Plan” from Al-Qaeda?s media arm, As-Sahab, on January 17. In that video, he also threatened reprisals if Germany did not withdraw from Afghanistan. He said Germans were “gullible and naive” if they thought they “were going to get off without injury when they are the third (largest) occupying force in Afghanistan” after the Americans and the British. He later dictated an audio message that was released on February 26 and was entitled “Islam and the Financial Crisis.”

German Muslims feel neglected in election campaign

Many of Germany’s 4 million Muslims feel forgotten and ill-inclined to vote in this month’s election, and even politicians acknowledge they have woken up too late to their ballot box potential.

In Duisburg in the industrial Ruhr region that is home to Germany’s biggest mosque, conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democrat (SPD) challenger Frank-Walter Steinmeier stir little interest, still less political passion. “I haven’t got a job, nor have my mates. Politicians don’t care,” said Ismet Akgul, 19, standing with friends outside an amusement arcade in the Marxloh suburb where about 60 percent of the population has immigrant, in most cases Turkish, roots. “Firms see a foreign name on an application form and chuck it in the bin,” he said. About one in five Germans has an immigrant background and the biggest single minority is Turkish. Of the roughly 2.8 million people with Turkish roots, only about 600,000 can vote, many failing to register or acquire citizenship. Only five lamakers out of 614 in the Bundestag lower house of parliament have Turkish origins. Some politicians argue that Turks, many with origins in the poorer, more religiously conservative areas of eastern Turkey, should make greater efforts to integrate and learn German. Madeline Chambers reports.