Muslim associations and Green Party in Lower Saxony criticize Minister of Interior

November 26


Muslim associations in Lower Saxony have criticized Minster of Interior Uwe  Schünemann (CDU) for defining Muslims as a marginal group. The associations did not accept to dialogue with the Ministry of Interior in July, after Minister Schünemann had refused to withdraw his “checklist” for the recognition of Islamists. Emine Oguz, a lawyer of the Islamic Union Institute for Religion – Ditib said, Schünemann would continue the checklist and keep controlling the mosques.


The migration policy speaker of the Green party Filiz Polat, criticized the government of Lower Saxony for ignoring the situation of Muslims. The Green party claims to record criminal offences against Muslims. Also, the Greens plan to include the situation of Muslims as an issue for the upcoming elections in Lower Saxony. The share of the Muslim population in Lower Saxony is about 6,2%.

Extremism check-list in Lower Saxony

June 17

A new initiative of the Ministry of Interior of Lower Saxony raised concern among German Muslim associations. The Bremen and Lower Saxony branches of the Muslim associations Ditib and the Shura of Lower Saxony cancelled a scheduled meeting for Monday with the local Ministry of Interior Uwe Schünemann (CDU). The reason for such concern is the publication of a checklist, which has been released in a booklet by the Ministry. The publication, titled: “Radicalization processes in the fields of Islamist Extremism and Terrorism”, is part of the “anti-radicalization concept”, implemented by the Lower Saxony institutions. The checklist includes behavioral and visible “indices” for the public to recognize Muslims who would potentially lean to terrorism, including weight loss, evident interest in sports and the insistence for privacy.

The Minister of Interior Schünemann has showed his willingness to discuss some of the issues. However, Muslim associations reject the checklist as a conceptual failure and request the cancellation of the whole project.

Avni Altiner, a representative of the Lower Saxony Mosque Association, warned that “such generalization would lead to a climate of fear”. The migration policy speaker of the Lower Saxony Green party, Ms. Filiz Polat, has asked Schünemann to send his apologies to Muslim associations and criticized the Minister of Interior for his attempts to forge ahead against the Muslim community. Polat sees the Extremism checklist as the rock bottom of the relationship between Muslims and the government of Lower Saxony. Laws that allow investigations of mosques without a given suspicion, she declared, would diminish religious rights and hinder any effort for dialogue.

Lower Saxony: Muslim Organisations Criticize De-Radicalisation Programme


Last week, Lower Saxony’s interior minister Uwe Schünemann presented his proposal for a de-

radicalisation programme designed to prevent young Muslims from being lured into extremist

groups. With his proposal, Schünemann continues his hardliner course on extremism and terrorism;

in 2010, he had already proposed a plan to fight an increasing terror threat, which was meant to lead

to a national action plan for inner security.

Schünemann’s most recent proposal is based on a close partnership between security services and,

for instance, mosques, city councils, youth services, foreign offices, and social services. An important

element of the proposal is the possibility to exchange personal information about individuals

suspected to support religious extremism or even terrorism. In addition, Schünemann is planning

on making employers more aware of and receptive to radicalisation processes amongst their staff.

Overall, Schünemann’s proposal is reminiscent of the highly controversial “security partnership”

proposed by federal minister of the interior Friedrich at the Islam Conference in 2011.

When he initially presented the programme last week, Schünemann claimed that it had been

developed in close cooperation with Muslim communities and organisations. However, the two

Muslim organisations Ditib and Schura countered that they were only included in the development of

the programme when they demanded to be involved after they had heard about it by chance. Their

critical remarks, however, were not considered in the development of the proposal.

After its presentation, the Muslim organisations heavily criticized Schünemann’s proposal, as it

places Muslims under general suspicion. Ditib and Schura distanced themselves from the programme

and expressed their rather sceptical stance.

Germany’s Muslims Support President Wulff



Germany’s President Christian Wulff has recently come under increasing attack from across the political spectrum for not having mentioned a private loan of 500,000€ that he received from the wife of Egon Geerkens, a wealthy German businessman, in October 2008. At this point, he was still serving as a premier of Lower Saxony. When the opposition asked him about his business ties to Geerkens, Wulff neglected to mention the loan. While Wulff had to face questions over this private loan in recent weeks and was accused of deceiving the German Parliament about it, he has now received support from Aiman Mazyek, head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. Mazyek called for a respectful handling of the case to preserve Germany’s political stability. According to Mazyek, this was now more important than ever before to prevent society from breaking apart.

Honour Killing in Stolzenau, Lower Saxony


On Monday, a 35-year old man of Yazidi faith, who moved to Germany from Iraq in 2008, shot his 13-year-old daughter following a family mediation session with youth authorities in Stolzenau, Lower Saxony. Souzan B. had moved out of the family home due to family disputes a few months ago and had since been living in a state children’s home, supported by local authorities. Following an attempt at reconciliation between Souzan and her family, which had failed as Souzan refused to move back into the family home, the father had opened fire at her outside the authorities’ office and in front of the rest of the family. Following the incident, the man escaped and is still on the run, hunted by the police.

Lower Saxony: Precautionary Burqa Ban


The state parliament in Lower Saxony discussed the potential introduction of a burqa ban for civil servants. The coalition government’s proposal to introduce such a ban in 2012 has been harshly criticized by the opposition of SPD, Green Party, and Left-Wing Party. The mosque association Schura described the proposal as “hysteria”, as there is currently no civil servant wearing or intending to wear a burqa.

Islam in German Schools


The federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony are planning to introduce Islamic religious education in state schools, starting at the beginning of the school year of 2012/ 2013 (as reported). The new subject is not only meant to impart knowledge and introduce children to Islamic practices, but also offers opportunities to promote tolerance and acceptance for people of different faiths. However, currently, the states are concerned about the lack of teachers to successfully implement these plans in practice.


To enable potential teachers for Islamic education to complete basic (and obligatory) university studies in theology, Federal Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan, is planning on introducing (and funding) Islamic Theology at four universities throughout Germany. The universities of Münster/ Osnabrück and Tübingen, for instance, offer some courses in the next academic year. Similar to the lack of teachers, the demand for lecturers and professors cannot be met domestically. Therefore, personnel will initially be recruited from abroad.

Fighting radical tendencies

23.06.2011/ 24.06.2011
Lower Saxony’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution is planning on stepping up efforts to counteract radical tendencies within Muslim communities. During the 4th “extremism-symposium” in Hannover, the President of the Office, Hans-Werner Wargel, emphasised the pressing need to prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims. To counteract radical tendencies, the security services aim to collaborate with Muslim associations. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is especially concerned about the Salafi stream within Islam due to their anti-constitutional views and attitudes.

Hesse Bans Burkas for State Workers

2 February 2011

The state of Hesse has banned the wearing of the burka – the Muslim dress that covers a woman’s face – by state employees during work hours, officials announced late Tuesday.

The decision was made by Interior Minister Boris Rhein in response to a worker at a local administrative office, or Bürgeramt, in Frankfurt who wanted to report for work wearing a burka. The woman is just finishing a period of parental leave but has been given some extra time to reconsider her position.

“We have allowed her a couple more days to think about the situation,” said Frankfurt city head of personnel Markus Frank. “We want to relieve the pressure somewhat.” The 39-year-old woman had the option of returning to work without her burka. Before she went on parenting leave, she wore a headscarf only.

Lower Saxony is set to follow the state of Hesse in banning the wearing of burkas – the Muslim dress that covers a woman’s face – by public sector workers, possibly creating a wave of regulations across the country.

Imams made in Germany

16 September 2010
The German government plans to enlist imams educated at German universities to improve the integration of young Muslims in the future. The program, however, threatens to create a conflict between Germany and Turkey and with Muslim organizations.
In the wake of the grim conclusions reached by Thilo Sarrazin, a former executive board member of Germany’s central bank, the Germans have launched into an impassioned debate over why so many Muslims fail in the country — in school, at work and in society. Hanover criminologist Christian Pfeiffer, who interviewed 45,000 young people nationwide, describes one of the key reasons: “Imams from abroad, with no understanding of the reality of life here in Germany, contribute substantially to the poor integration of young German Muslims.” According to Pfeiffer, the more devout Muslim youth also tend to be more isolated from German society. Anyone who hopes to change this, says Pfeiffer, “has to start with the imams”.
Politicians of all stripes are welcoming the idea, but whether it is truly feasible remains uncertain. Even if everything goes according to plan, the eagerly anticipated imams, with their German university degrees, could end up being unemployed, at least initially. Currently, imams are either working on a voluntary basis or are financed by other countries such as Turkey. Uwe Schünemann (CDU), interior minister of the northwestern state of Lower Saxony, has proposed that the new imams be offered half-time jobs as religion teachers in schools. This would enable state and local governments to share the costs, an idea that appeals to Schavan. But a nationwide discussion about Schünemann’s idea hasn’t even begun yet.