CDU party congress shifts to the right on immigration, burqa, and dual citizenship

Pacifying internal critics

On December 6 and 7, 2016, Germany’s centre-right CDU congregated in Essen for its party convention to endorse Angela Merkel for another term as CDU chairwoman as well as for a fourth run for Chancellor in the September 2017 federal elections.

Merkel had announced her decision to stand again for both offices shortly before the convention. Manifestly, shee deemed the moment to be an opportune one: her popularity ratings had steadily improved over the past weeks as she shifted to a more restrictive position on immigration that sought to reassure a fearful electorate and – after a series of defeats at the polls – to pacify her internal detractors.(( http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/10/17/regional-elections-germany-deliver-gains-afd-weakening-merkel/ ))

At the party convention, Merkel continued her attempts to win over her critics on the right by asserting that the open-door approach to immigration that she had taken in summer 2015 “cannot, should not, and must not repeat itself.” She defined a harsher line on immigration as “our and my declared political goal.” ((http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/cdu-parteitag-zwischen-merkel-und-morgen.724.de.html?dram:article_id=373394 ))

A set of restrictive measures on immigration and identity

The party convention endorsed the creation of “transit zones” for newly arriving migrants at German borders. These are to function as centres for reception, shelter, and detention where immigrants’ demands for asylum are processed on the spot. Moreover, the CDU aims to quicken the deportation of asylum-seekers who have had their demands rejected. (( https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article160057151/CDU-Innenexperten-setzen-auf-noch-rigidere-Asylpolitik.html ))

Islam and immigration loomed large behind some of the other proposals adopted at the convention, too. Merkel herself demanded that the burqa be banned “wherever this is legally possible.” As a piece of clothing making face-to-face communication in a democratic society impossible, Merkel defined the burqa as alien to German culture and values.(( http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/cdu-parteitag-zwischen-merkel-und-morgen.724.de.html?dram:article_id=373394 ))

Moreover, the convention demanded that marriages involving an underage bride or groom concluded abroad be no longer legally recognised and valid in Germany. On this issue, the run-up to the convention had witnessed repeated public polemics.(( http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/gesellschaft/kinderehen-in-deutschland-integrationsbeauftragte-aydan-oezoguz-gegen-pauschales-verbot-a-1119480.html )) Finally, in another measure of identity politics, German is to be inscribed in the constitution as the country’s official language.(( https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article160076321/CDU-verschaerft-innenpolitischen-Kurs.html ))

Conservative revolt on dual citizenship

However, these concessions did not satisfy the CDU’s conservative wing. While Merkel was re-elected to the chairmanship, she only received 89.5 per cent of the votes – a weak showing given the traditionally consensus-based and largely ceremonial nature of personnel choices at CDU party conventions. It represented Merkel’s second-worst result in her sixteen years at the head of the party.

Moreover, the CDU’s youth wing pushed through a resolution proposing a tightening of citizenship laws. Since late 2014, children of non-EU immigrants (above all from Turkey) who have been born and raised in Germany are allowed to retain both the German nationality and the nationality of their parents. The convention adopted a motion that seeks to scrap this option for dual citizenship and to force children to choose between a German passport and the passport of their parents’ country of origin by the age of 23.

This proposition targets over half a million children and young adults born between 1990 and 2012. Conservative politicians such as Jens Spahn, young CDU hopeful and self-stylised ‘burqaphobe’((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/08/26/muslim-womens-dress-takes-centre-stage-german-debate/ )) have long lambasted rules allowing dual citizenship as diluting immigrants’ loyalty to Germany.(( http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2016-12/doppelte-staatsbuergerschaft-cdu-optionspflicht-faq ))

The CDU’s strategic choices

Merkel and the CDU leadership subsequently stated that they would not consider themselves bound by the convention’s decision on dual citizenship. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière asserted that while he remained sceptical of dual citizenship per se, retracting the more liberal regulations would needlessly hurt and antagonise the young people targeted. In any case, none of the CDU’s potential coalition partners for a post-2017 government is willing to accept a crackdown on dual nationality.(( http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2016-12/staatsbuergerschaft-cdu-parteitag-integration ))

Thus, while the arduous discussions on citizenship provisions will remain largely inconsequential for the foreseeable future, they nevertheless show the dissatisfaction of the conservative base: the CDU party convention – occasionally ridiculed by political opponents as a powerless body rubberstamping the leadership’s decisions (Kanzlerwahlverein) – rose up in open revolt against a party elite deemed too liberal and out of touch with a disgruntled population.

Merkel herself has warned that the 2017 electoral campaign will be difficult and marked by increasingly loud assaults from the rising populist right. It remains to be seen whether her own party will prove immune to the temptations of populist slogans.

France lawmakers pass bill to strip terrorists of citizenship

French lawmakers gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow terrorists to be stripped of French citizenship, or at least of rights associated with it.

The National Assembly, the French Parliament’s lower house, approved the measure by a 317-199 vote.

The Senate must still approve the bill if it is to become a part of the French Constitution.

But the legislation has already split the ruling Socialist Party badly. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira resigned in opposition to the measure. “I am leaving the government over a major political disagreement,” Taubira said. “I choose to be true to myself.”

President Francois Hollande put forward the proposal in the wake of the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks in the wake of the attack that killed 130 people.

Overall, the legislation is intended to give the president greater powers to declare a state of emergency without, as is now the case, first asking for a vote in the Parliament.

A U.N. convention discourages countries from leaving people without any citizenship. France is a signatory to that convention. The first draft of the measure called for stripping those with a second nationality who committed crimes against the nation to be stripped of their French citizenship. It caused outrage in some quarters, particularly on the left, on the grounds it would penalize those with second citizenships but not most of the French, who have only French passports.

The new measure still calls for stripping those with another nationality of their French citizenship. But it adds that those with French citizenship can be stripped of “the rights attached to it,” implying that those with only one citizenship will face similar punishment to those with two or more. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill March 22.

Any constitutional changes require both chambers of the Parliament to convene in a Congress in Versailles and proceed to a vote that receives a three-fifths majority. The Constitutional Council, France’s highest court, must then review the text before the constitution can be amended.

Spanish call centers and butcher’s shops fund jihad

There is a network of at least 250 call centers, halal butcher’s shops and grocery stores in Spain funding jihadist operations in Syria and Iraq. To send donations to the Islamic State (ISIS) or the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, the network uses the ‘hawala’ informal money transfer system. The system avoids inspection by the authorities and moves the savings of over 150,000 Muslims, estimated at 300 million euros per year, Spanish daily El Pais quoted intelligence services as saying.
It is used by Syrian, Tunisian, Algerian and especially Pakistani immigrants. Investigators say that there are about 300 hawala terminals and clandestine ‘offices’ in Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, Bilbao, Santander, Valencia and Madrid used by the network to support the ‘jihadist cause’.

It is also the channel through which payments to jihadists of Spanish nationality get to Spain from camps in northern Syria. Intelligence services estimate that there are about 100 youth – mostly of Moroccan origins – that have joined ISIS, including about 15 that have been killed in suicide operations against the Syrian regime under Bashar Al-Assad.

It is also the channel through which payments to jihadists of Spanish nationality get to Spain from camps in northern Syria. Intelligence services estimate that there are about 100 youth – mostly of Moroccan origins – that have joined ISIS, including about 15 that have been killed in suicide operations against the Syrian regime under Bashar Al-Assad.

 

Proposed medical office would accommodate Muslim-American patients

May 7, 2013

By Ashley Rueff,

 

Orland Park could become home to what’s described as a “first-of-its-kind” outpatient surgical center with a mission of accommodating the religious and cultural beliefs of Muslim patients.

Dr. Naser Rustom has applied for state approval to open an ambulatory surgical treatment center at 10 Orland Square Drive, the site of the former Plunkett Furniture store, according to a state permit application for the project. The medical office, Preferred SurgiCenter LLC, would welcome patients of all faiths and beliefs, but it would employ staff who are familiar with and facilities designed to accommodate the needs of patients who follow Islamic Divine Law.

“We’re going to service every race, every nationality. We’re not going to discriminate against anyone,” said Manager Robyn Fina. “However, in the Orland Park and the southwestern suburbs, there is a huge concentration of Arab-Americans. I think there is a lack of facilities for them to receive the care that they need while taking into consideration their special religious and ethnic background.”

In its permit application, the project is described as a facility “that appeals to the general population as a whole; but, to the trained eye, the ASTC will also be the first-ever surgery center that is designed and operated in a manner that is fully compliant with the Shari ‘a Law.”

The proposed 11,000-square-foot space would offer pain management, gastroenterology and general surgery, according to the project application. The total cost is estimated at about $5.5 million with an anticipated completion date of July 2014, but that will depend on approval from the state.

According to its application documents, the facility would be staffed with employees who understand Muslim-Americans’ needs when approaching health care. The facility would include a prayer room and additional washing facilities to more easily accommodate the prayer schedule and rituals followed by some patients.

As much as possible, she said the facility will also accommodate patients who would prefer to be seen by staff of their own gender and will attempt to offer increased privacy.

Fina said such a facility is expected to improve health behaviors of Muslim-Americans who may have had negative experiences when attempting to follow their religious beliefs while seeking health care in the past.

“There are individuals who feel uncomfortable going into facilities because the staff don’t recognize their special needs,” Fina said. “What we are attempting to do is to address as many of those needs as we can within the confines of state and national laws and health care.”

Imam Nazir Chahin of the Prayer Center of Orland Park said he is unfamiliar with the details of the proposed medical office, but he thinks the concept would be welcomed by the Muslim community of the southwest suburbs.

 

Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-07/news/ct-tl-0509-proposed-muslim-accomodating-medical-ce-20130508_1_health-care-patients-application

Dual Nationality in Germany: Double Standards in the Citizenship Debate

December 5, 2013

 

Summary: If a Turk receives and keeps German citizenship in addition to his own Turkish nationality, then he suffers an identity crisis. If a German were to additionally obtain Turkish citizenship however, this would be no problem at all. A commentary by Prof. Klaus J. Bade.

Full story at Qantara.de – http://en.qantara.de/content/dual-nationality-in-germany-double-standards-in-the-citizenship-debate

David Cameron to unveil plans for £200m Islamic bond

October 28, 2013

 

David Cameron will pledge to make London one of the world’s “great capitals of Islamic finance” when he unveils Treasury plans to create a £200m Islamic bond by early next year. The prime minister will also unveil plans by the London Stock Exchange to launch the first Islamic Market Index.

The government moved on Monday night to offer assurances that the Islamic bond, or Sukuk, and the Islamic index would not encourage investments that discriminate against Israel. Boris Johnson was forced to order Transport for London to rewrite the contract for the Emirates Thames cable car in the summer amid fears that Israeli companies could have been blocked from involvement in the project as the United Arab Emirates does not recognise the state of Israel.

A government spokesman said: “The government’s decision to issue a Sukuk compliant bond is about making sure Britain is open for business – we will not open one door at the expense of another. While the Treasury is still working on the practicalities, we can confirm that the government would never exclude a supplier on nationality grounds.”

The Sukuk bond will comply with Islamic law and investment principles that prohibit lenders from charging interest.

On the Islamic index he will say: “The growth of Islamic finance means that there is an increasing demand for new ways of identifying Islamic compliant business activities. Again the City of London is leading the way – this time not just in Europe, but right across the world.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/29/islamic-bond-david-cameron-treasury-plans

Dual Nationals to Lose Dutch Nationality for Membership in Terrorist Organizations

31 August 2013

 

New legislation in the Netherlands revokes Dutch nationality from dual nationals found to be members of terrorist organizations. Currently, individuals who voluntarily serve in an army engaged in military action against the Netherlands or one of its allies can have their Dutch nationality revoked.  However, the law will change to include those found “irrevocably guilty” of membership in a terrorist organization, or of helping to prepare a terrorist act by “providing information, knowledge and skills, or making materials available.” According to junior Justice Minister Fred Teeven, such a person is acting so much against the essential interests of the estate that there can no longer be a connection between him and the Netherlands.

 

New Reports from the Andalusian Observatory

21 June 2013

 

The Andalusian Observatory presented at the library of the Central Mosque of Abu-Bakr in Madrid, the Annual General Education Report Annex (2012), the 2012 Report on Islamophobia incidents in Spain and the Special Report on Islamophobia incidents.

Annual General Education Report Conclusions:

  1. The Muslims students represent approximately 3% of the total of students in Spain;
  2. 35% of the Muslim students are Spanish and 65% are immigrants (50% Moroccan and 15% of other nationality);
  3. 95% of the Muslim students does not have religious classes at school;
  4. 90% of the Islamic Religious teachers are unemployed.

 

The 2012 Report on Islamophobia incidents conclusions:

  1. The Spanish society in general accepts the Muslim presence, while a remaining percentage (which varies according to different places), does not accept it.
  2. The opening of Mosques, in some localities, is involved in polemics, obstacles and Islamophobic opposition and hostility.

 

The 2012 Special Report on Islamophobia incidents conclusions:

 

  1. Muslims related concepts are still used in an abusive and indiscriminate way by the media.
  2. Negative stereotypes (public disorder, ideological extremism, problems of coexistence, violence, terrorism, etc) disseminated by political platforms, and amplified by the media, are causing fear in the Spanish population.
  3. The State needs to be more active in the normalization of religion and also in promoting greater social cohesion.
  4. The report gives descriptions of islamophobic incidents in Spain

 

In 2003 the ‘Andalusian Observatory’ was born as an autonomous body of the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain. It is a non-profit ‘institution for observation and monitoring of the situation of Muslim citizen and Islamophobia in Spain “.
http://www.ucide.org/es/content/observatorio

Reports:

isj_2012

ia2012_1

estadalumnos12-p

Moroccan Woman with Dutch Children to be Deported from Netherlands

June 20 2013

 

Parool reports that a Moroccan woman living in Amsterdam faces deportation as an illegal immigrant, though her four children have Dutch nationality.

Aicha el Maher was picked up by officials carrying out a spot check on the take-away café where they say she was working illegally. El Maher denies this. She has been held since in a deportation center in Rotterdam.

El Maher’s four children aged 8, 6, 3, and almost 2, are being cared for by a friend while immigration lawyers argue her case.

A spokesman for the deportation service said earlier this week that El Maher can opt to take her children back to Morocco with her. Her husband is 20 years older than her and is unable to care for them.

“Government, are you waiting for aggression?”

June 7, 2013

 

This is the tough stance of the president of the League of Muslims in Ticino. “The UDC posters (previously reported on by Euro-Islam: http://www.euro-islam.info/2009/04/28/swiss-high-court-rules-udc-muslim-posters-not-racist/) reminds us of the propaganda in the ’30s”

 

The debate focuses on the controversial posters of UDC that portray two immigrants riding two Swiss; the poster has finally been brought to the attention of the Muslim community. The president of the League of Muslims in Ticino, Gasmi Slaheddine wrote to the government requesting decisive action. “Say enough to these constant attacks on the Muslim community,” it reads.

 

According Slaheddine, “the majority of people of the Islamic community in Ticino are well integrated, both socially and professionally. There are men and women who contribute to the growth and prosperity of this country as doctors, engineers, economists, artisans, teachers, cooks… to name just a few examples. Many of these workers are of Swiss nationality.”