“The new minister will notice she is not with the Greens”: Interview with Cem Özdemir

In an interview, Cem Özdemir calls for an international Islam conference in Germany. The leader of the Green Party, who currently participates in a similar conference in Washington, calls for an intensive exchange of Europe with civil representatives from the Islamic world. On the topic of the new Turkish-German minister, Özdemir welcomes that more migrants are becoming involved in shaping German politics, but claims that the conservative CDU is far from taking over the Green Party’s strength of integration politics, as long as the party continues to have politicians like Roland Koch. Koch, the prime minister of the state of Hesse, has stood out with his campaign against dual citizenship and repeated quasi-racist remarks.

The World from Berlin: Germany’s Difficult Debate with its Muslim Community

Germany’s ongoing talks with its Muslim community continued on Thursday. In principal, everyone agreed to broaden Islam instruction in German schools. But deep divisions remain among the country’s Muslims. It hasn’t been easy. But on Thursday evening, after another session of the two-year-old Islam Conference led by German Interior Minister Wolfgang Sch_uble, government representatives and Muslim leaders announced an agreement to work toward introducing Islam instruction in German schools. Furthermore, Sch_uble expressed his support for the building of new mosques and the group likewise urged German states to change rules in order to allow Muslim burials. “We have agreed that this should be the way forward,” Sch_uble told reporters after the conference. “We are moving ahead step by step.” Still, the parties to the conference were hesitant to play up the announcement due to the difficult negotiations and at times deep divisions that have characterized the ongoing conference. On the one hand, Sch_uble’s Christian Democrats have at times made their distaste for widespread immigration clear, with Roland Koch’s recent re-election campaign in Hesse veering decidedly toward xenophobia. The recent fire in Ludwigshafen (more…), in which nine people of Turkish background died, likewise increased tensions with Germany’s immigrant community.

German state plans burka ban in schools

The prime minister of the German state of Hesse said in an interview Sunday that he wants a ban on the wearing of Islamic dress covering the whole body in schools. This was the best way to improve the integration of Muslim female students and counteract religious pressure on them from within their own culture, Premier Roland Koch told the news magazine Focus. He said girls wearing a burka, a traditional outer garment that cloaks the entire body, could not take part in lessons as equals because of their conspicuous dress. But Koch, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said he had no plans for a ban on students wearing headscarves, attire which teachers in the state are forbidden to wear.