Green Party MP Charged in Fight over Sausage

09.08.2011

 

The Turkish-German Green Party politician, Özcan Mutlu, has been charged with assault after he allegedly started a fight over the price for a “currywurst”, a typical German pork sausage dish, at a snack stall in Berlin. According to the snack stall’s salesperson, Mutlu, the Green Party’s Spokesman for education policy, first complained about the price for the food he ordered, before assaulting and hitting the seller. Mutlu, however, contends this version. He acknowledges complaining about the price, but negates to have initiated a fight with the seller. Instead, he describes that the seller insulted Mutlu for ordering a sausage during Ramadan, which then escalated into a fight. For Mutlu, the whole issue centred around discrimination against him for eating during Ramadan.

Dutch Progressives Should Talk About Women, Gay Rights in Islam

October 11 2010

The leader of the Dutch Green Party (GroenLinks) called this week for her colleagues to express their opinions about the position of women and gays in Muslim communities. Speaking during a lecture on the freedom of religion, Femke Halsema suggested that progressives show their passion for promoting the rights of Muslim homosexuals and women. Halsema called for a nuanced approach in which politicians “protect freedom and criticize lack of freedom within their own circles”.

Parallel Societies Start at School

A recent study entitled “Learning to Live Together at School” commissioned by the Ministry of Education has led to “alarming” discoveries, according to the head researcher Edit Schlaffer. Claudia Schmied, the Minister of Education, has herself stated that the study is for internal use only, and that details will not be given, though a summary has been published in the magazine Erziehung & Unterricht (Education & Instruction).

The study shows how children with an immigrant background and those without not only have very little points of contact with another, but often reproduce the same stereotypes as their parents. Children without any immigrant background accuse immigrants and their children of having come to take advantage of the Austrian welfare state, and associate them with large families, headscarves, and aggressive, macho behavior. Conversely, children with immigrant backgrounds (the majority of whom are Muslim) believe the “Austrians” drink too much alcohol; do not believe in god; are generally hostile towards Islam; and “take home a different girl every night.”

Despite these prejudices, the study also shows that both sides “respect” one another, and the “bad immigrants” are usually to be found in other classes, whereas the “good immigrants” are those with whom there is more contact. Nonetheless, such contact is often difficult to bring about, due to the fact that many Muslim girls do not participate in communal activities like excursions or sports weeks. According to the study, the Muslim girls in general do not live like other Austrian girls, as going out, relationships with men, and sleep-overs at friends’ homes are in general not allowed.

Schlaffer believes that it is precisely with regard to the different conceptions of gender roles that both groups could be better brought together within a framework of discussion and debate. Alev Korun, integration spokesperson for the Green Party echoes this sentiment, saying that the time of “living together and past one another” is over and that it is now time to come together and debate our different views, and that schools should do more to encourage such productive encounters.

“The new minister will notice she is not with the Greens”: Interview with Cem Özdemir

In an interview, Cem Özdemir calls for an international Islam conference in Germany. The leader of the Green Party, who currently participates in a similar conference in Washington, calls for an intensive exchange of Europe with civil representatives from the Islamic world. On the topic of the new Turkish-German minister, Özdemir welcomes that more migrants are becoming involved in shaping German politics, but claims that the conservative CDU is far from taking over the Green Party’s strength of integration politics, as long as the party continues to have politicians like Roland Koch. Koch, the prime minister of the state of Hesse, has stood out with his campaign against dual citizenship and repeated quasi-racist remarks.

Every second Austrian sees Islam as a threat

(Martina Salomon)

According to a recent study by the research institute IMAS, 54 percent of Austrians believe that Islam is a “danger to the West.” Furthermore, those questioned for the study increasingly have the feeling that they cannot speak about such views in public. The study was commissioned by the International Institute for Liberal Politics, and has been made exclusively available to Die Presse.

The study found that only 4 percent would be comfortable if a family member married a Muslim, while this was in fact already the case for 3 percent, and much more common in Vienna. The minaret question was also included, with 59 percent “rather against,” while 51 percent responded that the construction of mosques in general as well as the wearing of Islamic headscarves should be prohibited.

72 percent of Austrians criticized the lack of willingness of Muslims to integrate into Austria society (Green Party supporters were the exception, at 38 percent), and 61 percent agreed that “Austria is a Christian country and should remain so.” 42 percent went further, opining that “the less foreigners, the better.” Not surprisingly, the followers of the FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs) were most supportive (76 percent), while this radical view was also shared by 39 percent of Socialist (SPÖ) supporters and 37 percent of Christian Democrats (ÖVP).

Only Green Party supporters went against this trend. While merely one out of every fourteen Green supporters was opposed to the construction of minarets, only approximately a quarter believed that Austria should remain a Christian country. In addition, almost half of the Green supporters believe that immigration is an economic and social benefit for Austria, a view shared by only 15 percent of Socialists, 16 percent of Christian Democrats, and merely 5 percent of the FPÖ-BZÖ camp.

The study also found a rise of 10 percent (from 14 percent to 24 percent) of those who believe that it is better not to speak of such topics in public, leading the IMAS-researchers to conclude that there is are “flagrant contradictions between public and private opinions.”

A large majority (71 percent) believe Islam to be incompatible with Western ideas of democracy, freedom, and tolerance. Erich Reiter, who commissioned the study and is director of the Institute for Liberal Politics, stated that “from a liberal perspective Islam is perceived as a threat for our society. Politicians should take this seriously and react accordingly.”

Approximately 60 percent of respondents said they believed either in a biblical God (25 percent) or in a “spiritual power above us” (34%). However, when it comes to children’s education Christian beliefs come in next to last (followed only by “European ethos”). The most important values to promote in education were “independent thinking and acting,” reflecting as well the self-identification of the majority of those polled, who counted themselves among “people, for whom freedom and independence have great importance” (63 percent).

Poll shows majority against banning minarets in Switzerland

Will Swiss voters ban the construction of minarets (not mosques) in Switzerland on November 29? Not according to an opinion poll published on Friday. The survey says the initiative’s rightwing supporters are set for disappointment – along with leftwing voters who want to ban the export of war materiel – but it’s going to be close. The first poll on the issue by the leading gfs.berne polling and research institute says 53 percent of Swiss currently reject the anti-minaret initiative.

Voters on the left of the political spectrum rejected the initiative, with 73 percent of Green Party voters saying no. Both German- and French-speaking Switzerland rejected the proposal, by 54 and 52 per cent respectively, but voters in Italian-speaking Switzerland bucked the trend, with 53 percent of voters backing it. From a sociological point of view, non-believers and people with a monthly income above SFr 11,000 ($10,900) were most likely to reject the initiative.

As for which arguments resonated most with the public, 53 percent of yes voters justified their decision by wanting to send a clear message against shari’a law, while 51 percent didn’t want minarets but had no problems with mosques. Forty-four percent considered minarets a symbol of power and domination.

Green Party Leader speaks out against growth of Islamophobia

The leader of the Green Party Dr Caroline Lucas MEP has spoken out against the growth of Islamophobia in the UK. “The Green Party’s view is clear: everyone in Britain must be free to follow their chosen faith, or none, fully confident that their right to do so will be vigorously upheld by government.”

Dr Lucas, who was recently re-elected as an MEP for South East England, signed up to a statement issued by a number of politicians and other prominent figures. The full statement reads as below:

Muslims in Britain are facing attacks on many fronts. These include:

* The high-profile arrests under terror legislation of Muslims who are subsequently released without charge, creating a climate of fear and harassment.

* An increase in violent attacks on Muslims in the streets and on Muslim places of worship.

* The targeting of Muslims by the far-right British National Party.

* Aggressive policing of Muslims on demonstrations, apparently designed to deter them from participating in peaceful protests.

* The racist misrepresentation of Muslim views and practices in the mass media.

* The political harassment of Muslim leaders by government ministers.

Ethnic Turk wins political prominence in Germany

Cem Ozdemir tells public audiences how he was wrapped in a towel in a Turkish bath when a German woman walked in naked. So he dropped his towel “to show that I was well integrated at home in Germany.” The story is Ozdemir’s way of showing that even though he’s an ethnic Turk, he is comfortable with German ways. The message is all the more important now that he will be named co-leader of the influential Green Party this weekend. The appointment will make him the highest-ranking ethnic Turkish politician in a country that still tends to keep its Turkish minority at arm’s length.

On a continent that has struggled to produce leaders from minority communities even as it celebrates the triumph of Barack Obama in the United States, Ozdemir stands out as a rare politician who has broken racial barriers to win national prominence. Born to Turkish Muslim parents in Swabia, a culturally proud region in a heavily Roman Catholic state, Ozdemir, 42, often finds himself straining to prove that Germany’s 2.7 million ethnic Turks are invested in society. He also takes pains to quell Turkish suspicions that Germans are conspiring to keep them out of power. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the one who translates and explains how the others behave, think, dream,” he says.

Relations between Germans and Turks are generally civil, but not warm. Germans fret over the divide between their secular values and Islamic culture, while Turks struggle for access to quality schools and positions of power. Five Germans of Turkish origin serve in parliament but none has joined their party’s leadership or Cabinet. And while Turks have found success in independent businesses and the arts, they have little presence in the management of major German companies. Ozdemir’s new title will put him in a position to win a Cabinet post if the Greens make it into the ruling coalition in the next election.

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A Turk at the Top

Politician Cem Özdemir is set to soon become Germany’s first national party leader of Turkish descent. As head of the Green Party, he will break through a glass ceiling that still persists for most of the country’s estimated 2.5 million ethnic Turks. Cem Özdemir raises his vodka-orange and winks.
“Serefe.” He seems to relax. There was a crowd outside the bar, packed into Berlin’s KulturBrauerei for the mid-September Radio Multikulti festival, and the way to the small upstairs table had been full of random greetings and handshakes. Özdemir became a political cult hero in 1994, when, at 28, he became the first person of Turkish descent to enter Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. Now an influential member of the European Parliament in Brussels with three books and countless public appearances under his belt, the charismatic politician recently acquired the aura of a future titan within the country’s influential Green Party. Nine days earlier, Volker Ratzmann withdrew from the November 14 race for the party’s top leadership post, clearing the way for Özdemir to claim another high-profile milestone as the first member of an ethnic minority to lead a German national party. Michael Giglio reports.

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Bonelli of the Green Party accuses the CDL of Islamophobia

According to Angelo Bonelli of the Green Party, critics of Rome Mayor Veltroni’s decision to invite Tariq Ramadan to a recent conference in Rome on Islam have lost all sense of reason. Bonelli particularly condemned members of the center-right Casa delle Libert_ (CDL). “The CDL, he argued, is now blinded from a sort of Islamophobia and is critical of initiatives for dialogue. Bonelli defended the presence of Ramadan, who is a consultant for English Prime Minister Tony Blair and works officially with the Commission on Islam in France.