In light of recent findings and debate relating to right-wing extremism in Germany, German Interior Minister Friedrich initiated a meeting with representatives of Muslim organisations and associations to recuperate their trust in his work as well as German security agencies. During the meeting, many Muslim representatives expressed their current concern and emphasised the importance of a continuing dialogue between German authorities and Muslims in Germany to reinstall Muslims’ trust in German institutions.
In light of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Deutsch Türkische Nachrichten interviewed Lamya Kaddor, a scholar of Islamic studies of Syrian origins and actively involved in introducing Islamic education in German public schools, about her recent visit to New York and Ground Zero and the scaremongering by Interior Minister Friedrich. Kaddor thinks the 9/11 attacks have sensitized people to Islam – both in a negative as well as positive way. On a recent trip to New York, Kaddor was surprised by the relatively relaxed atmosphere in the US. She describes Ground Zero as a busy, yet peaceful place, where the presence of Muslims is not considered to be problematic.
Asked about Interior Minister Friedrich’s recent announcement that Germany is home to an estimated 1,000 Islamic terrorists, Kaddor criticises this form of scaremongering for political benefits. While such comments do not support the actual debate about Islamism and terror in Germany, they may be used (or rather, abused) to justify the implementation of certain policies.
As a teacher, Kaddor works with children that were born shortly before or after 9/11 and, therefore, do not have any direct (and first-hand) associations with the attacks. When talking about the attacks in class, Kaddor observes that some students cannot construct the links between what they hear and see and reality; for many of them, the events seem more like abstracts from an action-movie.
A week before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich told the Bild (tabloid) newspaper that Germany was home to an estimated 1000 people who can be identified as potential Islamic terrorists, 20 of whom have actually trained in terrorist camps. While Friedrich commended the work of German security services and the wide range of security methods, he wanted that al-Qaida inspired terrorism was still a real threat in Germany. However, the greatest danger is not radical groups, but individual offenders, who are difficult to detect.
Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich warned of an increasing danger posed by Salafi groups in Germany. Salafi Muslims follow a violent and ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam and generally aim at fundamentally re-structuring the liberal democratic order of Western states. According to estimates, there are currently approximately 2500 Salafi Muslims in Germany, who allegedly receive (financial) support from Saudi Arabia. Friedrich warned of a potential growth of this radical group and expressed the need to strengthen the “security partnership” between Muslim organizations and German authorities. This agenda had top priority during the prevention summit held at the end of June.
12 April 2011
Hans-Peter Friedrich, German Minister of the Interior, has recently denied that Islam belonged to Germany. At a discussion in Regensburg, he has now began to open up to German Muslims. At the “Regensburger Religionsgespräch”, at which predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble declared in 2009 that Islam is indeed a part of Germany, Friedrich has spoken in favour of supporting religious groups, because religion in his view fostered society cohesion, and that also extended to Islam. An Islam, he qualified, that recognises the inviolability of human dignity. He also emphasised that Christianity has deeply shaped German culture up to the language, but he was eager to avoid the term “Leitkultur” or guiding culture, which is often employed by conservative politicians. Reactions at the event were positive, but it was highly regretted that the only Muslim participant had fallen ill and was unable to attend.
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.”