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.

Germany’s Muslims Are Skeptical towards Their New President

Muslims are divided in their views on the new German president, Joachim Gauck. Many are concerned about his evident understanding for the views of Thilo Sarrazin on Muslims in Germany. Jan Kuhlmann reports

It was a broad coalition in the Federal Assembly which elected Joachim Gauck to the German presidency last Sunday. Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Liberals and Greens all supported the 72-year-old candidate. The media also took a positive view, describing him as a “President of the People” – a judgement which is confirmed by the opinion polls. According to one major poll, 67 percent think he was a good choice. So is Joachim Gauck “everybody’s president”?

That doesn’t seem to be true: in spite of the fact that so many political parties supported him, 108 members of the assembly abstained. Muslims in Germany are especially critical. Some – like Mehmet Kilic, Turkish-born spokesman on integration for the Green Party group in the German parliament – see Gauck as the completely wrong man for the job. He objects particularly to Gauck’s evident understanding for the views of Thilo Sarrazin, a former central banker whose book “Germany does away with itself” (“Deutschland schafft sich ab”) was highly controversial because of its view that the immigration of people who are genetically disadvantaged is causing problems for Germany.

German State of Hesse Re-Ignites Burqa-Debate

12.01.2012

The Christian Democrats (CDU) in the German state of Hesse have reignited the debate about a burqa ban in Germany. CDU-politician Alexander Bauer presented the main ideas of the CDU’s integration policy on Thursday; while the party acknowledges Germany’s immigration reality and the diversity amongst Germany’s population, they are also inclined to impose a ban on full-face veils, as people have to be willing to “show their face” if they live in Germany.

Update: Dutch MPs to Oppose Ban on Ritual Slaughter

14 December 2011

 

A debate in the Netherlands over a proposed ban on ritual slaughter continues with a majority of senators in the upper house of parliament now opposing the ban. A large majority of MPs in the lower house voted in favour of a ban in June, though Jewish and Muslim groups oppose the proposition. The change comes as members of the Labour and Liberal VVD parties decided to oppose the ban; members of the country’s Christian Democrats had opposed from the outset. The senate vote, now a foregone conclusion, will take place next Tuesday.

 

Dutch Minister In Favor of Immigration

7 October 2011

Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers, stated in a recent interview that “migration enriches our society”. The member of the Christian Democrats stated that a society which tries to curb immigration is “on the wrong track” and said that he regrets the anti-immigration political and social debate of the past years.

Dutch Newspaper Profiles Muslim MPs

May 7 2011

Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a profile on two Muslim politicians in the Netherlands, asking “what is it like to be a Muslim MP in a parliament that also houses well-known anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders?” Coskun Coruz (MP for the Christian Democrats) and Tofik Dibi (MP for the Green Left) are two of seven MPs identifying as practicing Muslims. In response to Wilders’ provocative comments regarding Islam Coruz comments, “It makes me feel quite unpleasant when Wilders says that stuff. Because it’s quite personal, it reflects on one’s character. And I’m not willing to change my religion.” According to Dibi, “I’m living proof that he’s wrong. I was brought up here, I’m Muslim, but I love freedom way more than he does.”

Debate over Merkel’s Reaction to Bin Laden’s Death

04.05.2011
Following the killing of Bin Laden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly announced her relief about the news during a press conference. More specifically, Merkel said it was “great news” and that she was “happy” to hear about the killing of Bin Laden. Further, she expressed her respect for Obama’s strategy. Merkel’s expression of joy over Bin Laden’s death has unleashed heated debate; her statement has been criticized by various religious groups and members of the political opposition as well as Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the governing coalition. Critics expressed their discomfort at the expression of joy over the death of a human being. Church representatives argued that from a Christian perspective, in particular, it was especially inappropriate to express happiness about the intentional killing of another human being. While most critics were understanding of expressions of relief about Bin Laden’s death, they considered it to be inadequate to express happiness in the way Merkel did. Others, such as Omid Nouripour, member of the Green Party, not only criticized Merkel’s statement, but also the killing of Bin Laden more generally. Nouripour stressed that the rules and regulations of a constitutional state had to be kept – even in the war against terror.

Many members of the Christian Democrats, however, supported Merkel. Heiner Geißler, for instance, argued that any civilized person should be happy about the fact that Bin Laden did no longer pose a threat. Geißler responded to criticisms by religious groups and argued that being Christian did not mean to be pedantic and “preachy”. He understood Merkel’s statement merely as an expression of happiness that this “problem” had been solved. Similarly, Dieter Graumann, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, saw Merkel’s happiness as not related to someone’s death, but the success in the war against international terrorism. Also amongst those defending Merkel’s statement is Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who, similar to Merkel, welcomed Bin Laden’s death as “good news”. While Westerwelle said that relief about Bin Laden’s death was understandable, he warned that the reactions to his killing in the West must not lead to any provocation of Al Qaida. Further, he emphasized the need to stay vigilant, as the killing of Bin Laden did not end the international fight against terrorism and extremism

Reacting to the public criticism, the Government emphasized that Merkel’s statement could not be isolated from the context. Seen in its context, it merely expressed relief that Bin Laden no longer posed any threat.

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.” (…)

Dutch Police Chief’s Burqa Comments Stir Controversy

Amsterdam police chief Bernard Welten has come under fire after suggesting that, should the burqa be banned in the country, his officers would not necessarily arrest women wearing the garment. Describing the issue as ‘extremely complicated’ Welten, noting that officers would have to ‘think hard’ before taking such a step. Under the governing coalition between conservatives (VVD), Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Party for Freedom (PVV), the accord has agreed to ban face covering clothing and the proposal is expected to pass successfully through parliament in the near future.

Welten faced criticism from several political parties, including the VVD and the PVV. Meanwhile Labour MP Ahmed Marcouch called the debate a non-issue, noting that he has never seen a burqa in Amsterdam. Orthodox Dutch Muslim organization As-Soennah has welcomed the remarks by Welten as ‘courageous’.