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.

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.

Muslims are not Welcome in the Christian Party

Thursday 9, 2010
Bjarte Ystebø, editor in the Christian paper Idag, speaks out against Muslims joining the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party (KrF). Christianity and Islam hold very different values, he says, and the kinship between them is greatly exaggerated.

Christianity promotes freedom, human rights and pluralism, he continues, while Islam stands for just the opposite. This, he claims, is obvious from studying all the countries in the world where Islam is the main religion, and have control over the state apparatus.

KrF most important task is to emphazise the Christian values that makes out the foundation of Norwegian society, such as family values, protection of life, property, peace, solidarity and freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Some of these values, he states, Christians share with Muslims, and if there were a Muslim party in Norway they could work together towards a mutual agenda on matters such as abortion, alcohol and family.

But when it comes to freedom of religion and speech, just as the support for democracy, Christian values collide with Islam, writes Ystebø. Therefore KrF can cooperate with Muslims, if they share these values, but ought not to include Muslims in the party. KrF needs to be, as it has been, a Christian party – he concludes.

Dutch Christian Democrats welcome Muslim texts

A new book of spiritual meditations was unveiled by the Dutch Christian Democratic Party, and includes meditations from both Christian and Islamic materials. The book, called “Reflections for political meanings” will be distributed among the CDA regional branches. According to CDA spokesperson Jo-Annes de Bat, the Muslim meditations were included to take into account non-Christian CDA members. “It is a common CDA tradition to open meetings with a meditation. But we noticed that branches sometimes found it difficult to find an appropriate text (as not all CDA members are Christian). That is why we put together the collection,” said de Bat.

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Dutch Christian Democrats welcome Muslim texts

A new book of spiritual meditations was unveiled by the Dutch Christian Democratic Party, and includes meditations from both Christian and Islamic materials. The book, called Reflections for political meanings will be distributed among the CDA regional branches. According to CDA spokesperson Jo-Annes de Bat, the Muslim meditations were included to take into account non-Christian CDA members. It is a common CDA tradition to open meetings with a meditation. But we noticed that branches sometimes found it difficult to find an appropriate text (as not all CDA members are Christian). That is why we put together the collection, said de Bat.

Despite Objections to Size, Cologne Approves Mosque

Cologne’s city council has approved building plans for what is slated to be Germany’s largest mosque. Politicians hope the structure’s glass design and bilingual program will help integrate the Islamic community. Cologne’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Left Party all voted for the construction of the mosque, which will include two minarets that stretch 55 meters (180 feet) into the sky, the Associated Press reported. Mayor Fritz Schramma was the only Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member to approve the plans. The rest of his party has criticized the mosque’s design as being “too imposing.” Builders from the Governing Body of the Turkish-Islamic Union (DiTiB) will construct the structure with a 37-meter high dome in the city district of Ehrenfeld.

National Moroccan Council chairman: it’s time for a Muslim political party

Mohamed Rabbae, chairman of the National Moroccan Council (LBM) says that it is time for an Islamic party in the Netherlands – similar to the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). In an interview to Sp!ts magazine about Wilders’ film ‘Fitna,’ Rabbae said that he missed parliamentarian contribution with a Muslim background. He added that he sees himself as just a possible adviser for such a new Muslim party, asserting his loyalty to the GrownLinks party, but nevertheless stressing the importance of Muslim presence in Dutch parliament.

Muslims Feel Rejected By The CDA

CDA MP Nihat Eski fears that his party hasn’t done enough to distance itself from Rita Verdonk, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders. Other CDA members and activists agree that Muslims at both the national and local levels are increasingly alienated from the governing Christian Democratic Appeal. {(continues below in Dutch)} ,De emotie, de commotie is groot, zegt hij in een interview met Trouw. ,,Moslims zouden geen incasseringsvermogen hebben, islam en democratie zouden onverenigbaar zijn en het islamitisch geloof zou een achterlijke cultuur zijn. Deze uitspraken hebben moslims diep gekwetst. Het zijn onzinnige en vooral polariserende uitspraken. Uit de moslimgemeenschappen kreeg ik sterke signalen dat ze vonden dat het CDA stelling moest nemen tegen deze uitspraken. Dat is onvoldoende gebeurd en de rekening daarvan kregen we bij de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen.” Eski staat met zijn kritiek niet alleen, wel is het bijzonder dat hij als CDA-kamerlid en moslim nu, vier maanden voor de kamerverkiezingen, zijn kritiek uit. CDA-voorzitter Marja van Bijsterveldt verwoordde in mei tijdens het partijcongres haar zorgen over de kloof tussen het CDA en de moslimkiezer. ,,Er is sprake van pijn en gevoel van miskenning.” Ze riep op tot een andere toon en houding van haar partij. De oud-voorzitter van het CDJA (de jongerenorganisatie), Ronald van Bruchem, zei eerder in een interview dat zijn partij een ‘mega-probleem’ heeft in de grote steden, omdat het contact met allochtonen verloren lijkt.

Readings Across The Mediterranean: To Veil Or Not To Veil… That Is Not The Question!

By Waleed Arafa The ban on hijab has stirred a great deal of discussion that has gone far deeper than simply the issue of hijab. “Islamic Identity in European Communities: Abdications and Integration. A Reading in the Current French Scene” was the title of a two-day conference held at the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, Cairo University, as part of the Program for Dialogue of Civilizations. On February 18 and 19, 2004, intellectuals and specialists discussed the issues involved in depth, leaving their audience with a variety of perceptive opinions and questions to contemplate. Discussing “Place” &”Time” The furor over hijab became the mandatory gateway to most of the issues. Dr.Mona Abu al-Fadl began by mentioning the date of the first incident over hijab in France; the year was 1989. She attempted to link it to the global winds of change that were taking place during the period 1989 – 1992. Before then, Muslims had been present in France for years and years without a single problem concerning hijab. Later Dr. Amr Al-Shobaky discussed “Place”. France! Why France in particular and not Britain for instance? The answer, in his opinion, is based on the uniqueness of the French secular model versus other models, especially the Anglo-Saxon model. A third speaker, Dr. Salah Jaa’frawy, argued that secularism should not be used as a comprehensive excuse for such practices, because other European countries have certain tilts towards certain religious groups. The Christian Democratic Party, currently ruling in Germany , where Dr. Salah lives, is an example. He mentioned that there is a race amongst German states to formulate laws banning hijab. Dr. Pakinam Al-Sharqawy confirmed that some people in the West simply like to attribute the problems of Muslims to Islam, and then link the problems of Islam to the problems of Muslim women, finally they reduce all the above to a secondary issue like hijab. She firmly stated, “They are escaping the bigger questions because eventually they will find themselves equally as guilty of Muslims’ problems, and that is a responsibility they do not want to take.”