Federal President Joachim Gauck has refused to meet bereaved family members of the victims murdered by the right-wing terrorist group NSU (National Socialist Underground). The Turkish community had welcomed a meeting but the Office of the Federal President refused it.
Kenan Kolat, representative of the Turkish community criticized the reaction of the Federal President. “The President should set a sign. Many family members of the victims would have been disappointed by the results of the commission of inquiry.”
The reaction of President Gauck is peculiar. He condemned the NSU series of murders but did not take a clear stand in favor of the victims. In contrast to his predecessor Christian Wulff (CDU), Gauck refused to recognize Islam as an integral part of Germany. He has underlined the “strangeness” of Islam and its differences to the German and European identity. He related it to the historical strangeness of Western democracies towards Communism. President Gauck has shown understanding for the fear of Germans towards Islam and Muslim immigrants.
Muslim associations such as the Central council for Muslims in Germany and the Council for Coordination for Muslims in Germany (KRM) have criticized the comments of German Federal president Joachim Gauck about Muslim and the belonging of Islam to Germany. President Gauck took repeatedly distance from the declaration of his predecessor Christian Wulff (CDU), who pointed at Islam as an integral part of Germany.
In an interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Gauck has said to accept Muslims as part of Germany but denied the statement of his predecessor about Islam being part of German society.
The Council for Coordination has declared his statement as irritating and disturbing. The chairman of the Turkish community Kenan Kolat has invited president Gauck to a revision of books on European history, while rejecting an ideological debate.
The interviews and speeches given by Germany’s new president, Joachim Gauck, show that he is putting a clear distance between himself and Islam. But as German president, his job is not to polarise, but to differentiate. In this essay, Jan Kuhlmann argues that he should reach out more to conservative Muslims in particular
While the debate about Germany’s designated President Gauck is on-going, with many politicians happy about Wulff’s successor, Germany’s Muslims are less euphoric. They have questioned Merkel’s choice of President and expressed their hopes that he will continue Wulff’s integration efforts. During his presidency, Wulff has especially reached out to Muslims in Germany (as reported), whereas Gauck has been silent about accommodating Islam in Germany.