How to deal with extremist voices: Inclusion of hard-line Salafi in TV debate causes uproar in Germany

‘My life for Allah’

Recent reports indicate that the flow of German recruits to the jihadist groups on the Syrian battlefields is declining.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/jihad-reisen-101.html )) Nevertheless, among all European countries, Germany comes second in terms of the number of its citizens that have joined ISIS, al-Nusra Front, or related groups. Against this backdrop, the German public broadcaster ARD used its flagship political talk show Anne Will to discuss the reasons behind the foreign fighter phenomenon.((The full show is available at http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Anne-Will/Mein-Leben-f%C3%BCr-Allah-Warum-radikalisie/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=328454&documentId=38785504 ))

Debating under the title “My life for Allah – why do more and more youth radicalise themselves?”, guests included Ahmad Mansour, a Muslim sociologist and anti-radicalisation activist; Mohamed Taha Sabri, a Berlin-based Imam; Sascha Mané, father of a girl who has joined ISIS in Syria; and conservative CDU politician Wolfgang Bosbach.((For a portrait of Ahmad Mansour and some of his work, see http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/02/20/ahmad-mansour-on-generation-allah-radicalisation-of-young-muslims-in-germany/ ))

Ties to the Syrian jihad

Yet the most controversial guest proved to be Nora Illi, converted Swiss Muslim woman serving as women’s affairs commissioner at the ‘Islamic Central Council of Switzerland’ (IZRS). In spite of this seemingly inclusive name, the hard-line Salafi IZRS represents only 0.5 per cent of Swiss Muslims.((https://www.welt.de/vermischtes/article159313844/Nikab-Nora-liebt-die-Provokation.html ))

The organisation is the target of a criminal investigation in Switzerland for facilitating the travel of foreign fighters to Syria.((http://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/strafverfahren-gegen-izrs-vorstandmitglied-eroeffnet-1.18665759 )) The IZRS has also publicly screened a movie shot by one of its board members while in Syria during the war. Ostentatiously presented as a travel documentary, the movie in fact contains a host of interviews with Syrian jihadists.((http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/schweiz/standard/islamischer-zentralrat-setzt-sich-provokativ-in-szene/story/30538028 ))

Calculated provocation

Against this backdrop, the talk master Anne Will undoubtedly expected Illi to play a certain provocative role during her show; a role which she fulfilled splendidly. Wearing a niqab, she appeared to defend the jihadist fighters joining the Syrian conflict: Illi asserted that breaking free from the constraints of European life was “not at all objectionable from an Islamic perspective”, and that doing so even “needed to be highly lauded as an example of moral courage.”((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/medien/warum-lud-anne-will-die-islamistin-nora-illi-ins-studio-14517143.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2 ))

Illi went on to assert that wearing the niqab was liberating her as a woman. She claimed that Western societies were consistently oppressing Muslims and preventing them from living in accordance with the fundamental tenets of their faith.

Reacting to the radical challenge

Subsequently, the entire rest of the round rallied against Illi. All other Muslim participants denounced her as propagating a hateful ideology and of condoning or actively fostering the atrocities in Syria. The father of the ‘jihadi bride’ provided an insight into what he believed were his daughter’s thought processes when travelling to Syria – most notably her fervent belief to contribute to the making of a better world by joining the Islamic State.((For an excerpt on this, see http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Anne-Will/Die-Jugendlichen-m%C3%B6chten-gern-die-Welt-/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=328454&documentId=38785454 ))

However, among Muslim discussants further fault-lines opened up quite quickly. Most notably, Ahmad Mansour criticised Imam Sabri for his defensive attitude and for his somewhat hapless attempts to dissociate Islam from the Islamic State by simply asserting that ISIS and its actions are ‘un-Islamic’. Mansour accused the mainstream Sunni Muslim clergy of having failed to “offer youth an understanding of Islam that is reconcilable with democracy and human rights without ifs and buts”. This failure, according to Mansour, coupled with the conservatism of much of established theology, provides fertile soil for subsequent radicalisation.((http://www.rp-online.de/panorama/fernsehen/anne-will-tv-kritik-welcher-islam-passt-zu-deutschland-aid-1.6379034 ))

Islamists and populists

Beyond demonstrating the very strained nature of the entente between different Muslim voices standing against radicalisation, however, the discussion round also cast into sharp relief the difficulty of reining in hateful fringe discourses. Critics noted that without the concerted help of her other guests, host Anne Will not have been able to deconstruct Illi’s blunt yet powerful rhetoric. At times, the crude logic of Illi’s argument threatened to overwhelm the host.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/medien/tv-kritik/tv-kritik-anne-will-nora-illi-macht-offen-propaganda-fuer-den-is-14516141.html ))

This highlights the fact that offering a public forum to voices like Nora Illi is challenging, because she is not willing to abide by the rules upon which discussion in such a forum is based – notably a willingness to build an argument based on hard facts, or a minimum requirement of civility. Unfazed by facts and conventions, Illi proceeded to offer her own concoction of theological rigidity, conspiracy theories, and distorted truths.

In this respect, the predicament faced by Anne Will in relation to the Swiss radical propagandist is not altogether different from the challenges encountered by media across Western democracies in their dealings with ‘populists’. Donald Trump’s victory has been widely hailed as signifying the triumph of anti-establishment post-truth politics. Similarly, in Germany the established parties struggle to unravel the elaborate edifice of anxieties, fears, and half-truths exploited by the rising Alternative für Deutschland party.((Another recent TV debate provides a perfect instantiation of this point: In the episode of Maischberger broadcast on September 22, AfD leader Frauke Petry gleefully manipulated the discussion. Exasperated by the populists’ ability to blur the line between facts and fictions, SPD Secretary General Katharina Barley at some point noted with bewilderment that the AfD had managed to make the burka ban a central topic of the electoral contest in regional elections in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, in spite of the fact that no burka-wearing women had been spotted on the state’s streets. http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Maischberger/Das-schwarz-rote-Debakel-Volksparteien-/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=311210&documentId=37887778 ))

Enlarging the discussion or providing a forum for hate speech

Consequently, like in the case of populists, the media are faced with the difficult question of whether to engage with voices like Nora Illi. Anne Will’s decision to invite Illi was heavily criticised, with some accusing Will of unnecessarily providing a platform for the spread of hateful propaganda. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asked whether Anne Will wanted to invite neo-Nazis to her next debate.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/medien/warum-lud-anne-will-die-islamistin-nora-illi-ins-studio-14517143.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2 ))

Will herself reacted by asserting that “the editorial team has carefully considered the invitation of Mrs. Illi”, especially given Illi’s “controversial position” regarding foreign fighters travelling to Syria. Will argued that by including Illi “the discussion offered many insights […] in the field of the tension between religion and liberal pluralistic values that preoccupies our society.”((http://www.zeit.de/2016/47/anne-will-ard-talkshow-islamismus-verschleierung-frauenrechte/komplettansicht ))

Forcing extremist views to justify themselves

Irrespective of whether the host’s intentions were as noble as that – or whether she was more concerned with increasing the market share of her show – simply blanking out positions like Illi’s does not appear to be a viable option. It is only when they are forced out into the open that such views can be engaged with. It is also only in such a public context that we can hope to demystify them and showcase their flaws.

By the end of Anne Will’s show, the participants had been more or less successful in this regard. Yet wrestling down Illi and her blunt argumentation had proved to be a formidable undertaking; an undertaking that on multiple occasions teetered on the verge of failure.

Expectations and reactions ahead of the German Islam Conference

January 30, 2014

 

Muslims associations and German State authorities will be meeting this year at the annual German Islam Conference to continue the debate about Muslim life in German society. The German Islam Conference was initiated in 2006 by former Minister of Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU). One if the issues will be the implementation of an official Muslim holiday. The speaker of the Turkish community Kenan Kolat raised the importance of an official holiday as “an important signal to the Muslim population”. Kolat appreciated the openness of the designated Minister Thomas De Maizière (CDU) for dialogue, criticizing the conservative attitude of his predecessor Friedrich. The designated Minister of Interior is said to meet representatives of Muslims associations including the Turkish community, the Alevi community and Islamic cultural centers next week, discussing upcoming issues. 

 

Sefi Ögütlü, General-Secretary of the Islamic cultural centers underlined the relevance to open a new chapter. Bekir Alboga, representative of the Turkish Islamic Union Institute for Islamic religion (DITIB) emphasized his optimism. The new Minister would show an appropriate attitude towards the Islamic communities.  Yilmaz Kahraman, representative of the Alevi community in Germany criticized the ineffectiveness of former conferences, which would have left no concrete results but brochures and leaflets. Kahraman called Muslims not to ask what the State may be able to do for them, but look at ways for Muslims to contribute to society and avoid parallel structures.

 

 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/vor-treffen-zu-islamkonferenz-tuerkische-gemeinde-will-gesetzlichen-muslimfeiertag-12768940.html

 

Central council of Muslims: http://islam.de/23250

More Muslim burials without legal obligation for coffins

November 7, 2013

 

Like other German cities and States, the city of Rüsselsheim in the State of Hesse permits Muslims to bury their dependent community members according to Islamic faith and rituals. The graves are headed towards Mekka and include religious texts. Since March 1st 2013, the cemetery and funeral law of Hesse permits a burial without coffin but shroud. Also, the Islamic ablution is allowed. The law reform was implemented to offer Muslims an alternative opportunity to bury their deceased in Germany without returning them to their countries of origin.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/rhein-main/region/neue-grabfelder-ohne-sargpflicht-mehr-muslimische-bestattungen-12651411.html

Public debate on Muslim women, integration and Islam

May 3

 

According to a representative survey, conducted in 2012 by the Allensbach Institute for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the majority of the questioned people associate Islam with a propensity for violence, fanaticism and intolerance.

 

Although the real life situation of Muslim women does not correspond with the image of the “oppressed woman”, 83 per cent of respondents view Islam as misogynist and feel that it is characterized by discrimination against women.

 

In contrast to the negative prejudices towards Islam, only 13 per cent relate Islam to the grace of charity. Only 12 per cent relate Islam to charity and 7 per cent to openness and tolerance.

 

The study describes the attitudes of Germans as still dominated by the Huntington assumption of “clash of civilizations”. In 2010, only 36 per cent of Germans believed in a peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. However, only 19 per cent of the interviewees perceive Islam in itself as threatening. Although 48 per cent Germans are pessimistic about the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, while only 39 per cent would agree with a minaret ban.

 

Interestingly, there is no positive correlation between tolerance and inter-cultural contacts. Despite a higher number of Muslim immigrants in West Germany, 48 per cent of West German interviewees feel discomfort in the presence of headscarf-wearing women. 45 per cent of the East German population feel discomfort in the presence of headscarf-wearing women. Only 22 per cent of the interviewees see Islam as an integral part of Germany and only 29 per cent perceive Muslims as part of the country.

 

Hence Islam as the “other” is deep-seated in the mindset of the German population.

November12_Islam_01

Allah or the Advisory Council, Islamic Religious Education in Germany

A few weeks ago, a new school subject was introduced in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia: Islamic religious education. The new subject is a provisional arrangement and is not uncontroversial. By Ellen Hoffers

Aya frowns. In the back row, Ayman starts a kind of sing-song “Shalom, salaam, shalom.” Bernd Ridwan Bauknecht sighs. He has just explained to his fourth graders that the Arabic greeting “Salaam aleykum” is similar to the Hebrew greeting “Shalom alechem.” Both of them mean peace.

“And do you know what?” he continues. “In church, Christians shake hands with each other before they take communion and they say to each other, ‘Peace be with you.'” Aya’s not sure about all this: “And what do the Catholics say?” Bauknecht smiles: “You’ll have to ask them yourself,” he says. She won’t have far to go: “the Catholics” have their class next door.

Since the beginning of this school year, 2,500 of the 320,000 Muslim school pupils in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been receiving faith-based “Islamic religious education” for the first time in the history of education in Germany. The Am Domhof Catholic primary school in Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn, at which Bauknecht teaches, is one of the first 33 schools to offer the new subject.

The law introducing the subject was passed in December 2011 by the Social Democrat–Green coalition in the state, with the support of the opposition Christian Democrats. The move has widespread support, although there’s annoyance over the organisational model that the government has introduced. This model features an advisory council, and that has been criticised above all by those who have been campaigning for Islamic religious education for years.

“The mentality of a religious bouncer”

Lamya Kaddor is one of them. She has been teaching Islamic Studies in schools for ten years. She helped set up the first university chair in Islamic religious education, temporarily filled a vacant professorship and is the author of three textbooks.

In 2011, she was awarded the Integration Medal by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin; in Madrid in 2010, she was voted one of the most influential Muslim women in Europe. On that occasion, Cherie Blair shook her hand. Now she’s afraid that she might end up unemployed.

That’s because Kaddor is also chairperson of the Liberal Islamic Association. She says that equal rights for men and women are rooted in Islam. She also calls the idea that only those who believe the right things will end up in paradise “the mentality of a religious bouncer” and rejects any ban on showing the video that defamed Muhammad and caused such a storm in the Arab world. She insists: Muslims in Germany don’t need special treatment.

But these views are not welcome both in conservative and traditional Muslim circles and in the four big Muslim associations in Germany. It’s these four associations – which only represent 15 per cent of the Muslims in Germany – that will soon decide whether she has the “religious aptitude” to continue to teach. She says the situation is absurd.

“What do I say when they ask me why I’m not wearing a headscarf?” she asks. “And what happens when they discover that I’ve written a paper on that issue? Will they reject me?”

The ministry’s trick

In the twelve years before the new subject was introduced, a course called “Islamic Studies in German” was taught in North Rhine-Westphalia in a pilot project. That was all that was possible back then because in Germany, in order to teach a religion on the basis of the beliefs of that religion, there has to be a religious organisation. But since Islam doesn’t have the same kind of structures as the Christian Churches, the Islamic Studies subject was introduced, officially, as a school curriculum on Islamic Studies from an academic point of view.

But from the start, things all looked different in practice. The reason for this is that the Ministry for Education only appointed practicing Muslims. “It was clear to everyone involved that the aim of the project was faith-based religious education,” says Dorothea Paschen, head of St. Andrew’s school in Bad Godesberg. “What was missing was legal equality with the other denominational religious education classes.”

To achieve that, the ministry used a trick: in consultation with the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM), an advisory council was set up to take on the role of the required religious organisation. In practice, this council tests teachers on their “religious aptitude” and approves the textbooks.

Opponents of this model speak of a “failed attempt to churchify” Islam. The state education minister, Sylvia Löhrmann of the Greens, recognises the problem but pleads for pragmatism: “We have to institutionalise Islam like the other religions, otherwise we won’t make any progress. Obviously, we will never have full unanimity.”

“The liberal camp was ignored”

The purpose of the current model is to ensure that the state retains its neutrality by having the Muslim community decide – in the same way as the Christian Churches do – what counts as the teachings of Islam and what doesn’t.

The problem is: who represents the Muslim community? The advisory council has eight members; four have been chosen by the ministry in consultation with the Muslim associations, and the four associations – DITIB, the Council of Muslims, the Association of Muslim Cultural Centres and the Central Council of Muslims – send one member each.

All these organisations are conservative and traditional. “The liberal camp was ignored when the members of the advisory council were chosen,” says Lamya Kaddor. Before it was set up, the Liberal Islamic Association and the Association of Democratic European Muslims warned the minister that the council would be one-sided. But she chose to negotiate the membership of the council with the KRM, whose four member associations are now all represented on the council.

The KRM’s spokesman is the veteran functionary Ali Kizilkaya. He came to Germany from Turkey in 1973 and spent a long time as an official in the German headquarters of the highly conservative, Turkish association Milli Görüs. He then became chairperson of the Council of Muslims and spokesperson for the KRM. In 2006, he caused a storm when he said that the wearing of a headscarf was a “religious commandment” which “cannot be contextualised according to different countries or places.”

Religious aptitude test needed

Kizilkaya is a product of the decades-long fight by the Muslim associations for official recognition. Nevertheless, he sees the current arrangement on religious education as only a compromise: in his opinion, the associations should really have “sole competence” to decide on the religious aptitude of teachers.

He says that they had no choice but to “tolerate” the Islamic Studies classes and that they held back with their criticism. But that’s over now. It is, of course, the “duty and the task” of the associations “to examine the faith and the behaviour of teachers”. After all, that’s what the Churches do. “People will have to get used to that,” he says.

Bernd Ridwan Bauknecht has done the “religious aptitude test” and was quite shocked by it. In the 20-minute interview, the main issue was his loyalty to the associations. He was accused of “not being religious enough.” Two weeks after the interview, he received a letter from one of the members of the advisory council asking him to join one of the four associations.

“Can you imagine it?” he says. “I am a German convert, an expert in Islamic Studies and a committed Muslim! Why should I join an association like DITIB, which is controlled from Turkey? Or one of the Arab associations? Or the Council of Muslims, which is dominated by Milli Görüs? It’s laughable.”

If he didn’t want to join, he was told in the letter, he should at least have an imam confirm that he regularly played an active part in community life, preferably in a mosque belonging to one of the associations.

Kizilkaya doesn’t see the problem: “You have to be a member of the Church too,” he points out. Imams will be trained to provide certificates to prove that teachers lead a religiously correct way of life and are active in the communities. In a recent public discussion in which Löhrmann also took part, Kizilkaya said training was not the decisive point; it was “active involvement in a community and the correct belief” that mattered, and in the system set up by the state, it was the job of the associations to check on those issues. Löhrmann replied that the advisory council was still in the process of finding its role.

Bauknecht has been teaching Islamic Studies in Bad Godesberg for the last 9 years. Just a few hundred metres from his school is the Saudi King Fahd Academy, which hit the headlines in 2004 over texts in its textbooks glorifying violence; three streets further along, there’s a mosque that is especially popular with Moroccans and where Salafists have a big say; then there’s the DITIB mosque with its strong roots in Turkey.

Bauknecht has always considered his teaching as a bulwark against radical forms of Islam. He wants to give children space to think about themselves and their religion – a space in which they can also express their doubts. His children come from many different Muslim movements, and he feels that they have to learn how much variety there is in their religion.

Many potential conflicts

“The classes must be measured against the needs of our children,” says one father of four, “and not some political skirmish.” This father originally sent his children to Catholic religion classes. “They also dealt there with social and ethical questions,” he remembers. “Those are important for all children.”

Then Islamic Studies were introduced, and now he’s proud that the subject has the same status as that of other religions. He says Mr Bauknecht has been teaching the subject well for the last ten years, and that’s the most important thing – “whether the teacher is involved in a community or not is his own business.”

For the pupils, nothing has changed. In their classroom there’s a cross made of mosaic pieces and a calligraphy. On top of the board are the “99 beautiful names of Allah” in gold letters – next to them is a list of all the people who are mentioned in the Christian bible as well as in the Koran. Maryam/Mary; Ayoub/Job, Yusuf/Joseph.

“Quiet now,” calls Bauknecht. Today’s topic is conflict and reconciliation. He draws an iceberg on the board. Only the tip is out of the water. He explains that beneath the surface of any conflict, there are always deeper wounds. You have to recognise that before you can solve the conflict.

Lamya Kaddor thinks that there’s plenty of room for future teachers to find themselves in conflict with the advisory council. “What happens when a teacher marries someone from another religion?” she asks. “Or when a teacher is homosexual? Nobody thought about such issues when the subject was introduced.”

For her part, the minister has recently been saying that one should remember that the advisory council is legally only a temporary arrangement until 2019. After that, the issues will have to be discussed anew.

Ellen Hoffers

© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 2012

Translated from the German by Michael Lawton

Editor: Aingeal Flanagan

German media roundup: Alert but not hysterical

18 November 2010

Conservative daily Die Welt complimented de Maizière’s reassuring conduct, which it said balanced the seriousness of the threat with the need to avoid panic. It was the very refusal to resort to hysteria that was the great strength of a democracy, the paper wrote.
“There are situations in which calm is actually a civic duty and has nothing to do with apathy. It is not a sign of carelessness but of strength if life goes on as normal in dangerous situations. In a democracy, heroism and the most normal daily routine go hand in hand.”
Centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that unlike his predecessors, de Maizière has been no “Federal Fearmongering Minister.” “For this reason his warning of an impending attack is so effective,” the paper said.
The threat of terrorism presents a Catch-22 for government leaders, who face criticism if they have failed to warn citizens in the event of an attack, or accusations of fearmongering when they do issue a warning. Given the situation, de Maizière’s approach was correct, “and there is no better answer,” the paper said.
It was appropriate for the minister to advise against hysteria and worry, because the danger of actually being the victim of a terrorist attack is smaller than any other security risk in Germany, the paper explained.
The centre-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that every citizen needed to make a level-headed assessment of the threat. That meant being watchful but also getting on with life.
“The Interior Minister cannot please everyone. If he issues warnings too loudly and too often, people accuse him of being alarmist. If he is too cool and guarded, it is said, he is lulling people with the illusory comfort of safety,” it wrote.

Interview with Islam Expert Dietrich Reetz: ‘Muslims Have a Right to Be Different’

Islam expert Dietrich Reetz of Berlin’s Center for Modern Oriental Studies (ZMO) speaks to SPIEGEL about Muslims in Germany, social tensions and the prospects for dialogue between the communities. SPIEGEL: Mr. Reetz, recently the debate about the propensity to violence, among young Muslim men in particular, has heated up in Germany. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung co-editor Frank Schirrmacher wrote that, the mixture of youth criminality and Muslim fundamentalism is the closest thing today to the deadly ideologies of the 20th century. He is drawing an analogy to fascism and Stalinism. Is that excessive dramatization or is there a real threat?

Egypt bans Der Spiegel issue for ‘insulting Islam’

Egypt has ordered the seizure of a special edition of the German news magazine Der Spiegel after it was deemed to be insulting to Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, newspapers reported on Wednesday. Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi took the decision “to defend Islamic values and confront attempts to damage the prophet, the Muslim religion and religion in general,” the state-run daily Al-Gomhuriya said. It reported Fiqi as saying Egypt would not allow any publication damaging to monotheistic religions “because that is nothing to do with the freedom of information that the West talks about”. Al-Gomhuriya said the March 25 special issue of Der Spiegel contends that Islam is a Christian offshoot and contains several images and comments insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, citing a “German orientalist” according to whom Islam incites violence and terrorism. In February, Egypt banned the sale of four international newspapers — Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt, Britain’s The Observer and the US Wall Street Journal — for publishing cartoons of the prophet. Der Spiegel was banned by the Egyptian government. It is not the regular Spiegel, but a Spiegel Special on Islam in Germany. Actually, I proof-read some of the articles (for example the interview with the German intelligence chief, and the article on the history of contacts between Germans and Muslims).

Erdogan says Turks in Germany fear for safety

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Germany yesterday to take measures to counter discrimination against its large Turkish population, saying his own relatives in the country feared for their safety. In an interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Erdogan also criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for not joining him for an event in Cologne last month attended by thousands of German Turks. The comments promised to overshadow a government-sponsored Islam Conference held yesterday in Berlin that is designed to help foster the integration of Germany’s 3.2mn Muslims. The vast majority are of Turkish origin. The German government must take severe measures, Erdogan told the newspaper. I have relatives in Germany and they tell me: we are scared. Erdogan was responding to a question about a house fire last month that killed nine people of Turkish origin in Ludwigshafen. The Turkish media has speculated that the fire was a racially-motivated attack, but German prosecutors have virtually ruled out arson as the cause of the blaze, which killed five children and a pregnant woman. Erdogan, who visited the site of the fire last month, said he had seen Nazi symbols on the door of the house.

How Multiculturalism Can be Saved

The conflict between Western society and Muslim extremism has called into question the reality of multiculturalism in the Netherlands. In a guest article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, writer Ian Buruma, born in the Hague in 1951, sees this as a result of the complacency that Netherlanders have had about the functioning of their multicultural system.