CDU party congress shifts to the right on immigration, burqa, and dual citizenship

Pacifying internal critics

On December 6 and 7, 2016, Germany’s centre-right CDU congregated in Essen for its party convention to endorse Angela Merkel for another term as CDU chairwoman as well as for a fourth run for Chancellor in the September 2017 federal elections.

Merkel had announced her decision to stand again for both offices shortly before the convention. Manifestly, shee deemed the moment to be an opportune one: her popularity ratings had steadily improved over the past weeks as she shifted to a more restrictive position on immigration that sought to reassure a fearful electorate and – after a series of defeats at the polls – to pacify her internal detractors.(( http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/10/17/regional-elections-germany-deliver-gains-afd-weakening-merkel/ ))

At the party convention, Merkel continued her attempts to win over her critics on the right by asserting that the open-door approach to immigration that she had taken in summer 2015 “cannot, should not, and must not repeat itself.” She defined a harsher line on immigration as “our and my declared political goal.” ((http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/cdu-parteitag-zwischen-merkel-und-morgen.724.de.html?dram:article_id=373394 ))

A set of restrictive measures on immigration and identity

The party convention endorsed the creation of “transit zones” for newly arriving migrants at German borders. These are to function as centres for reception, shelter, and detention where immigrants’ demands for asylum are processed on the spot. Moreover, the CDU aims to quicken the deportation of asylum-seekers who have had their demands rejected. (( https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article160057151/CDU-Innenexperten-setzen-auf-noch-rigidere-Asylpolitik.html ))

Islam and immigration loomed large behind some of the other proposals adopted at the convention, too. Merkel herself demanded that the burqa be banned “wherever this is legally possible.” As a piece of clothing making face-to-face communication in a democratic society impossible, Merkel defined the burqa as alien to German culture and values.(( http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/cdu-parteitag-zwischen-merkel-und-morgen.724.de.html?dram:article_id=373394 ))

Moreover, the convention demanded that marriages involving an underage bride or groom concluded abroad be no longer legally recognised and valid in Germany. On this issue, the run-up to the convention had witnessed repeated public polemics.(( http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/gesellschaft/kinderehen-in-deutschland-integrationsbeauftragte-aydan-oezoguz-gegen-pauschales-verbot-a-1119480.html )) Finally, in another measure of identity politics, German is to be inscribed in the constitution as the country’s official language.(( https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article160076321/CDU-verschaerft-innenpolitischen-Kurs.html ))

Conservative revolt on dual citizenship

However, these concessions did not satisfy the CDU’s conservative wing. While Merkel was re-elected to the chairmanship, she only received 89.5 per cent of the votes – a weak showing given the traditionally consensus-based and largely ceremonial nature of personnel choices at CDU party conventions. It represented Merkel’s second-worst result in her sixteen years at the head of the party.

Moreover, the CDU’s youth wing pushed through a resolution proposing a tightening of citizenship laws. Since late 2014, children of non-EU immigrants (above all from Turkey) who have been born and raised in Germany are allowed to retain both the German nationality and the nationality of their parents. The convention adopted a motion that seeks to scrap this option for dual citizenship and to force children to choose between a German passport and the passport of their parents’ country of origin by the age of 23.

This proposition targets over half a million children and young adults born between 1990 and 2012. Conservative politicians such as Jens Spahn, young CDU hopeful and self-stylised ‘burqaphobe’((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/08/26/muslim-womens-dress-takes-centre-stage-german-debate/ )) have long lambasted rules allowing dual citizenship as diluting immigrants’ loyalty to Germany.(( http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2016-12/doppelte-staatsbuergerschaft-cdu-optionspflicht-faq ))

The CDU’s strategic choices

Merkel and the CDU leadership subsequently stated that they would not consider themselves bound by the convention’s decision on dual citizenship. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière asserted that while he remained sceptical of dual citizenship per se, retracting the more liberal regulations would needlessly hurt and antagonise the young people targeted. In any case, none of the CDU’s potential coalition partners for a post-2017 government is willing to accept a crackdown on dual nationality.(( http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2016-12/staatsbuergerschaft-cdu-parteitag-integration ))

Thus, while the arduous discussions on citizenship provisions will remain largely inconsequential for the foreseeable future, they nevertheless show the dissatisfaction of the conservative base: the CDU party convention – occasionally ridiculed by political opponents as a powerless body rubberstamping the leadership’s decisions (Kanzlerwahlverein) – rose up in open revolt against a party elite deemed too liberal and out of touch with a disgruntled population.

Merkel herself has warned that the 2017 electoral campaign will be difficult and marked by increasingly loud assaults from the rising populist right. It remains to be seen whether her own party will prove immune to the temptations of populist slogans.

France lawmakers pass bill to strip terrorists of citizenship

French lawmakers gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow terrorists to be stripped of French citizenship, or at least of rights associated with it.

The National Assembly, the French Parliament’s lower house, approved the measure by a 317-199 vote.

The Senate must still approve the bill if it is to become a part of the French Constitution.

But the legislation has already split the ruling Socialist Party badly. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira resigned in opposition to the measure. “I am leaving the government over a major political disagreement,” Taubira said. “I choose to be true to myself.”

President Francois Hollande put forward the proposal in the wake of the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks in the wake of the attack that killed 130 people.

Overall, the legislation is intended to give the president greater powers to declare a state of emergency without, as is now the case, first asking for a vote in the Parliament.

A U.N. convention discourages countries from leaving people without any citizenship. France is a signatory to that convention. The first draft of the measure called for stripping those with a second nationality who committed crimes against the nation to be stripped of their French citizenship. It caused outrage in some quarters, particularly on the left, on the grounds it would penalize those with second citizenships but not most of the French, who have only French passports.

The new measure still calls for stripping those with another nationality of their French citizenship. But it adds that those with French citizenship can be stripped of “the rights attached to it,” implying that those with only one citizenship will face similar punishment to those with two or more. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill March 22.

Any constitutional changes require both chambers of the Parliament to convene in a Congress in Versailles and proceed to a vote that receives a three-fifths majority. The Constitutional Council, France’s highest court, must then review the text before the constitution can be amended.

The City thinks of a new mosque for Muslims

July 23, 2013

Savona – At the suggestion of Luca Martino, the City of Savona has approved during today’s session of the Executive Council to proceed to enter into an agreement with ARTE – Territorial Regional Construction of Savona in order to make available to the Muslim community a suitable premises for social activities and prayer. The Head of Heritage Luca Martino said: “The Community has long called for the availability of premises to which, in recent years, we have responded by providing a gym, however, this does not suffice in times of Ramadan, when the attendance is much higher. Obviously this is an inadequate solution and it is temporary. This is why today we approved the use of a convention pursuant to article 15 of Law 241/90 for the use of premises located in Via Aglietto, owned by ART. ART will provide the premises at a moderate fee. The community has expressed its interest to perform, at its own expense, the necessary maintenance and adjustment to local regulations.”

Jets’ Aboushi Faces Aspersions for Being Palestinian

On the night of June 29, two months after he was drafted by the Jets, Oday Aboushi stood before more than 700 people at the El Bireh Society convention in Arlington, Va., and discussed his journey to the N.F.L.

Aboushi shared what it was like growing up in Brooklyn and Staten Island as one of 10 children. He spoke about graduating from the University of Virginia in three and a half years. He discussed his 2009 visit to refugee camps in the West Bank, how that trip inspired him even more to succeed and to represent his community.

“It was the classic American success story,” said Sarab Al-Jijakli, the president of the Network of Arab-American Professionals, who was in the audience that night.

Aboushi’s appearance at the convention, a three-day gathering of Palestinian-Americans that was described by another attendee as a “cultural networking event,” produced an outcry from some online who charged Aboushi with being a Muslim extremist. An article on the Web site FrontPage Mag suggested that he had terrorist ties. A column on Yahoo Sports, since removed, said he held anti-Semitic views. An employee of MLB.com on Twitter compared Aboushi to Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end charged with murder, before later apologizing.

Waves of support for Aboushi started rolling in on Thursday, and on Friday, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement condemning the attacks on his character and applauding him for taking pride in his culture. The Jets also backed Aboushi, an offensive lineman they selected in the fifth round.

In a statement, Aboushi said he was upset that his reputation had been tarnished by people who did not know him, but that he was proud of his Palestinian heritage and to have been born and raised in the United States.

Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan says blacks should curb spending, pool resources, buy land

Nation Of Islam.JPEGCHICAGO — Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan on Sunday called on blacks nationwide to curb economic disparities by cutting back on excessive spending, pooling resources and investing in land — an action plan he laid out during a three-hour speech at the movement’s annual Saviours’ Day convention.

The 79-year-old leader has often used the annual keynote address — part sermon, part lecture — to discuss current events and politics on a national platform, particularly after the election of the nation’s first black president. But Farrakhan focused most of his new message on the Nation of Islam followers in the audience.

“Even though one of our own has reached the highest pinnacle of the American political system, his presence has not, cannot and will not solve our problems,” Farrakhan told the crowd of men wearing navy uniforms and women dressed in white shirt suits and matching hijabs.

Roughly 10,000 people attended the convention at the University of Illinois at Chicago, an event that drew followers from around the globe and capped off three days of workshops.

The Nation of Islam has more than 1,500 acres of farmland in Georgia. Ishmael Muhammad, the religion’s national assistant minister, told The Associated Press that the group is looking to buy thousands more acres in the Midwest.

Annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention takes place in Toronto

News Agencies – December 19, 2012

 

Thousands of Muslims from across North America gathered in Toronto from December 21 through December 23 for the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention. “The conference has always been about uniting and joining hands with scholars, journalists, academics, representatives from other faiths, and artists to promote messages of peace and tolerance,” RIS spokeswoman Farhia Ahmed told OnIslam.net.

Themed “Divine Light for Living Right: The Light of Prophetic Guidance in the Midst of Modern Darkness”, the convention is organized and managed by approximately 400 young Canadian volunteers. It brings a galaxy of prominent Muslim scholars including Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, Karen Armstrong and Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Islamic studies professor at George Washington University. Also attending are the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Mustafa Cerić, scholar Habib Ali Al-Jifri, Swiss professor Tariq Ramadan, Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled, Dr. Aisha al-Adawiyya; Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury; Yasmin Mogahed and Edina Lekovic.

Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention was first launched in 2003 by Muslim youth to tackle the backlash on Islam and Muslims after the 9/11 and to build a bridge of understanding with non-Muslims. Last year, over 20,000 people attended the event and for the first time tickets were sold out by the second day of the 3-day program.

 

Philly security firm sued over Muslim head scarf

The EEOC is suing ABM Security Services, which provides guards for the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, for religious discrimination after an employee claimed she was forced to choose between keeping her job and wearing her traditional Muslim head covering.
ABM hired Tahira, a devout Muslim, and she reported for training wearing a khimar, a head covering worn by some Muslim women. Her trainer told her to take off the scarf, but she refused, explaining that her religion required it. An ABM representative told her that she could not work at the convention center while wearing the khimar and sent her home.
Tahira filed an EEOC complaint, noting that ABM never discussed accommodations that would allow her to perform the job and observe her religious beliefs. EEOC mediation attempts failed, and now, barring a settlement, the lawsuit will go to trial.

Canadian politician defends speaking engagement at Islamic convention

News Agencies – December 12, 2012

 

Canadian politician Justin Trudeau is brushing off criticism about his upcoming keynote speech at an Islamic convention, saying he’s proud to be participating in the event. His planned Dec. 22 appearance at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto has been attacked by an anti-Islamism website and those complaints have been picked up by some mainstream media outlets. The critics have raised concerns about radical views and the alleged affiliation of other speakers at the event later this month; they have also pointed to alleged ties between major conference sponsors and the Islamic militant group Hamas.

When asked about the controversy, Trudeau said he doesn’t share the critics’ concerns and he accuses them of trafficking in misinformation. He said politicians from all parties have spoken at the annual Toronto event — including former New Democrat leader Jack Layton a few years ago. The convention had 30,000 attendees in 2011 and at least 20,000 are expected this year. The working title of Trudeau’s speech is: “Being Inclusive in Canada: Our Story, Our Politics, Our Future.” The event, founded by young Canadian Muslims a decade ago, aims to promote a forum for people to hear different viewpoints related to Islam.

 

Episcopalians under fire for hosting Muslim convention

PASADENA, Calif. — Leaders of a flagship progressive Episcopal church are defending themselves against charges of sympathy for terrorists in their decision to host the annual Muslim Public Affairs Council convention.

All Saints Church has received dozens of emails accusing it of condoning terrorism for hosting MPAC’s 12th annual convention on Dec. 15, the first held in a Christian church.

Ryan Mauro, national security analyst at RadicalIslam.org, contends that MPAC is “taking advantage of naive Christians,” and that Islamists seek to protect themselves from critics by forming an “interfaith bloc.” He criticized MPAC statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and accused its leaders of being part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to destroy the West from within.

While many Muslims in the public eye have come to expect such condemnation, other religious leaders feel a responsibility to stand up to concerted efforts to demonize Muslims. “This is not just a few random cranky Christians,” the Rev. Susan Russell, a senior associate of All Saints Church, told reporters on Thursday (Dec. 6).

“Just because it’s directed at Muslims now, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be directed to other faith communities at other times,” added Rabbi Sarah Bassin, executive director of NewGround, a Muslim-Jewish dialogue organization.

“This is a teachable moment,” said the Rev. Susan Russell, “to stand against ignorance and bigotry.” The church held a press conference to note this “historic moment” for America’s religious pluralism and interfaith peacemaking.

It’s also a “teachable moment” in terms of shining a light on how the “fear-mongers,” that is, the Islamophobia network in the United States, works to try to disrupt and discredit strong interfaith work among religious groups at the grassroots.

Still, All Saints Rector Edwin J. Bacon Jr. said the emails to All Saints were unexpected