Germany Has 1 Million More Muslims than Previously Thought

A new Interior Ministry study has revealed that Muslims in Germany are much more integrated than previously thought: Around half are German citizens and 70 percent of women never wear a headscarf. There are also many more Muslims in the country than was previously estimated.

Poor, uneducated and living in a “parallel society” of headscarf-wearing women and criminal youth: The common stereotype of Muslims in Germany is not an all-too-positive one. But a new study reveals a surprisingly different picture of the reality — including the fact that many more Muslims live in Germany than was previously believed. The study, which was commissioned by the Interior Ministry together with Germany’s Islam Conference, is the first country-wide study that gives a representative overview of Muslim life in Germany. Researchers from the Nuremberg-based Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) interviewed around 6,000 Muslims from 49 different countries about the role of religion in their everyday life and various aspects of integration. A summary of the study was published Tuesday and the full study will be presented Thursday at the last meeting of the Islam Conference, which Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble initiated in 2006 in a bid to launch a dialogue between the German state and the Muslim community.

Anti-Islam conference in Germany

Far-right German organization Pro Köln will organize an “Anti-Islam Conference” on May 9, only nine months since the last conference. The organization, which is against the mosques being built in Köln and Frankfurt, called far-rightist groups from all around Europe to participate in the conference. The group argues that society in Köln is gradually becoming Islamized. Some groups in Belgium and Austria responded positively to the call.

Anti-Islam Conference: Right-Wing Populists to Gather in City of Immigrants

Europe’s right-wing populists want to build a united front to battle what they call the continent’s creeping Islamization at a conference set to take place in Cologne this weekend. Powerless to stop the event, local officials are anticipating the arrival of thousands of counterprotesters. Cologne’s Heumarkt, a cobblestone square in the city’s Old Town, is best known as the place where thousands and thousands of costumed revellers converge each Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. to ring in the new season of the most famous festival along the Rhine River, Carnival. This Saturday, though, Heumarkt will become the focal point for an altogether different and decidedly less cheerful event. Instead of the sound of relentlessly upbeat Carnival songs, the square will be filled with radical right-wing slogans and anti-Muslim baiting. Pro Cologne (Pro Köln), a group that has risen to political prominence in this city of 1 million with its vociferous campaign to stop the construction of a major mosque — and even landed seats on the City Council along the way — is to hold a conference aimed at halting what it describes as the creeping “Islamization” of Europe. It would be hard to find another German city where the debate over integration and the role of Islam has been as concrete and vocal as it has been here. And nowhere else has it been easier to observe the collateral damage that can occur when politicians attempt to address the fears many locals have about purported Islamization. Lenz Jacobsen reports.

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German-Jewish Writer Opposes Anti-Islam Conference

A well-known Holocaust survivor has said he strongly opposes the international anti-Islam conference slated to take place in Germany next month, despite his critical stance on Islam. German Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Ralph Giordano has come out strongly against the planned so-called Anti-Islamization Congress — a meeting of extreme-right European political forces — planned for Sept. 19-20 in Cologne. The right-wing extremist groups Pro Koeln and Pro NRW are organizing the event, with the aim of issuing a declaration opposed to the purported “Islamification” of Europe. Big names in xenophobia: The meeting will be attended by some of the most inflammatory names in European race politics, including Jean- Marie Le Pen of France, Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache, and Belgium’s Filip Dewinter. In the past, the Pro Koeln and Pro NRW have invoked comments by Giordano, who has said he considers German integration policy a failure. He has also warned of “false tolerance” in the prosecution of foreign juvenile delinquents. But Giordano now says he does not want to be “instrumentalized” by the extreme right at the conference.

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.

Turks in Germany feel unwelcome

Over half of Turks living in Germany feel like unwanted guests. The survey was released ahead of the German Islam Conference on Thursday, March 13, where the thorny topic of integration tops the agenda. Over three quarters of the Turks surveyed, both with and without German passports, said German Chancellor Angel Merkel didn’t adequately represent those in Germany with a Turkish background. The report, based on 400 responses, was published in the Wednesday edition of Die Zeit.

Ninety-two percent said they thought that “Turks in Germany should preserve their own culture,” and nearly as many (89 percent) felt that German society should be more considerate about the customs of Turkish immigrants. Nevertheless, a sweeping majority (83 percent) considered the German language a key to success as an immigrant and two-thirds didn’t regret their decision to come to Germany.

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Islam conference opens in Berlin

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Sch_uble is meeting with Muslim groups in Berlin for the third so-called “Islam Conference”. The aim of the annual conference is to improve the integration of Germany’s approximately 3.5 million Muslim residents, most of them of Turkish background. Topics to be discussed include the consensus on social values, religious issues and the function of the media in building bridges between different cultures. The conference comes a day after a poll was released indicating that a majority of Turks feels unwanted in the country.

Germany’s State-Run Schools to Teach Islam

A government-sponsored Islam Conference aimed at fostering the integration of Germany’s Muslims agreed to allow public schools to introduce religion classes on Islam in German. The third official Islam Conference held in Berlin on Thursday, March 13, agreed on adding Islam to the school curriculum in public schools amid heated debate and controversy about Muslims embracing Western values and the acceptance of Muslim immigrants in Germany. “In the not too far future, we — where there’s wish and need for it — will have Islam religion classes at German schools,” German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who initiated the conference, told journalists. Schaeuble said the conference had been “very drawn-out and painful” and added that the meetings would continue beyond 2009. Plans hobbled by lack of teachers. Ahead of the conference, Schaeuble said religion classes on Islam would help deter parents from sending their children to informal religious lessons taught by instructors who had not been vetted by the state. “We’re going up against hate preachers any way we can,” Schaeuble said Thursday in an interview with Stern Online. “With Islam religion classes, we’d create competition.”