In an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the new German minister for the interior, Thomas de Maizière, speaks about his stance on Islam in Germany. He affirms the continuous education of imams and religious teachers at German universities. A second area of support will be gender equality and women’s rights. Finally, de Maizière will continue the efforts of the Islam Conference, founded by his predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble, to counter extremism. “We welcome Islam, but not Islamism”, says de Maizière.
In a speech at Cairo University in Egypt, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble sought understanding for Germany’s integration policies. The speech came just ahead of the next German Islam conference in Berlin. In his Cairo speech, Schaeuble pointed out that there was legal equality for Muslims in Germany. The country’s three million Muslims have “the same rights, because our state guarantees freedom of religion and is not limited to a singular world view.” The interior minister explained it was crucial that Muslims living in Germany learnt the language and added that the successful integration of Islam into western societies will only work if Muslims accept democratic constitutions “without condition.” “Whether we like it or not, there are many people who think that Islam and democracy don’t mix. These are often people who have prejudices against Islam,” Schaeuble told the audience of Egyptian politicians and intellectuals. “But we must also not ignore the fact that there are some Muslims who also hold this opinion,” Schaeuble continued. He warned that this minority was seeing to it “that their opinion is heard worldwide.” To combat anti-democratic tendencies, Schaeuble also said that Muslim children living in Germany should receive Islamic courses in German. He supported the plan that Islamic clerics in the country should also be trained at German universities. Currently most of the clerics at Muslim mosques in Germany have received their religious training outside of Germany. This, Schaeuble stressed, could only be a temporary solution.
Ahead of his speech, the German interior minister met with several representatives of the Egyptian government, as well as Muslim and Christian clerics.