Unknown perpetrators have smudged the unfinished body shell of a mosque in the city of Dormagen with swastika Nazi symbols. The police refused to draw correlations between the assault and the current PEGIDA protests. Police and security authorities have initiated investigation, expecting that the assaults are politically motivated.
At the same time, a fire assault has taken place against a refugee camp in the small German city of Vorra. The event has been condemned by all major parties. Some went as far as to connect it, at least ideally with the PEGIDA protests. The General Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Yasmin Fahimi described PEGIDA as the “spiritual arsonist” of attacks against foreigners. The commissioner for integration, the minister of State Aydan Özoğuz (SPD) condemned the assaults. Referring to the discovery of the right-wing terrorist group National-Social Underground (NSU), these assaults demonstrate the deep hatred against human beings and the potential threat caused by right-wing extremists, he declared.
Muslims in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have begun to initiate working groups about the opinion of Muslims about German politics. The goal is to juxtapose the overwhelming prejudice in German public about Muslims being unable to participate in democratic societies. Also, Muslims in the SPD aim at improving the image of Muslims proving their compatibility with democracy. On February 14th 2014, SPD head Siegmar Gabriel and Minister of Integration Aydan Özoguz organized a session for the new initiated “working group for Muslim social democrats”. The working group is expected to be an important step towards the recognition of Muslims and their engagement in German society.
A further positive step was the designation of Yasmin Fahimi this January as the General Secretary of the SPD. Fahimi (46) is a German Chemist of Iranian descent.
The parliament of the German State Baden-Württemberg has passed the burial law to legalize religious burial rituals. The Minister of Integration Bilkay Öney (SPD), interpreted the law as a positive signal for religious diversity. Prior to that law, Muslims were not permitted to bury their members without a coffin. In order to ensure a Muslim burial, Muslims would be obliged to send their relatives to the country of origin. Muslims will be allowed to bury their members according to the Islamic rituals in a shroud. More than 600.000 Muslims are living in the State of Baden-Württemberg.
This issue started in 2012 when Minister Öney, Muslims associations, Jewish associations, the churches, scientists, municipalities and administrative authorities of the cemeteries gathered in an official hearing to begin a debate about this topic.
The German government’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Markus Löning (FDP), is critical of citizenship laws that force young Turks to choose between German and Turkish nationalities. His view breaks with government policy to date. Daniel Brössler spoke to him
It was a compromise that now forces thousands of young descendants of immigrants in Germany to make a tough decision. Since the year 2000, a regulation has been in force granting immigrants’ children born in Germany since 1990 the right to a German passport. They are temporarily allowed to retain the passport of their parents’ homeland alongside the German one. But by the time they have turned 23 at the latest, they must give up one citizenship, as long as their parents do not come from an EU country, for example.
This has led to quite a number of Germans becoming foreigners again since the beginning of the year. The CDU and CSU, which pushed the compromise through against proposals to fine-tune the legislation by the SPD and the Greens, are keen to maintain the option obligation. But the SPD says if it wins the election it will do away with the ruling – an approach now supported by the government’s Commissioner for Human Rights, FDP politician Markus Löning.
After controversial debates about religious motivated circumcision, the German Federal Parliament approves circumcision. The circumcision must be executed by trained persons and must fulfill health and medical regulations.
A prior draft attempted to legalize the circumcision of boys with the minimum age of 14.
However, the majority of the parliament did not approve it.
Federal Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) welcomed the decision of the Federal Parliament: “For decades, parents have not been penalized when accessing professional means to circumcise their sons.” Circumcision would remain legal.
Head of the party in parliament, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) criticized the decision of the district court in Cologne, which had forbidden circumcision, as an alienating act for the Jewish community. Minister of Justice in Berlins, Thomas Heilmann (CDU) interpreted the law as a welcoming signal for Muslims and Jews.
The mayor of the City State Bremen Jens Böhrnsen (SPD) defined the treaty of the City State of Bremen with the Muslim community as the right step. Muslims would be an integral part of Bremen. The treaty includes the implementation and recognition of religious-related holidays, including school holidays, religious education and burial rituals for Muslims. The treaty guarantees three official holidays: Eid ad-Adha, Ramadan and Ashura. The equality of men and women is a premise.
However, the treaty does not grant the Muslim community the corporation under public law. Muslim teachers will not be allowed to teach Islamic education. Unlike Hamburg, the Bremen Senate did not approve to implement “Islam” as a school subject. Approximately 40000 Muslims live in Bremen.
The Islamic association of Bremen “Schura” welcomed the treaty draft. Khalid Preukschas, board member of the Schura described the treaty as a positive sign for Muslims and Bremen. The treaty would be an important step towards the recognition of Muslims as a part of the society. Muslims have proved their willingness to integrate into the society.
The Minister of Interior Hans Peter Friedrich has initiated a controversial poster campaign against the radicalization of young Muslim immigrants. The posters look like missing reports, showing young male Muslim migrants: the women in the pictures wear the “hijab”. The reports ask the reader to be aware of the missing person, who might have been radicalized and driven to extreme Islam. The number of a hotline to get advice from the Ministry of Interior is also on the poster. People who are within or close to social circle of Muslims, whether they are friends or relatives, and observe a “radicalization” among them, are invited to contact the hotline.
The initiative has triggered several critical reactions. Aydan Özoğuz, Commissioner for integration and deputy secretary of the SPD, harshly criticized the campaign, which would suggest regarding every Muslim as a fanatic and terrorist.
Kenan Kolat, a representative of the Turkish community in Germany, spoke about a stigmatization campaign, which would distract from the real problem, which in fact is societal racism.
Last week, Rhineland-Palatinate’s Interior minister Jochen Hartloff (SPD) ignited a huge media debate after he declared his support for Sharia Law in Germany – however, in a “modern form”. In an interview with the Berlin tabloid BZ, Hartloff said that some aspects of Sharia-law could have a place in Germany, particularly in civil cases relating to marriage and divorce settlements, but also in certain instances of contract law, in which devout Muslims seek to avoid paying interest. According to Hartloff, applying sharia rules such cases could help avoid hostility.
Reactions to his comments, however, have not been supportive and criticism has been fierce. Most commentators, such as Hesse’s justice minister Jörg-Uwe Hahn, stressed that Germany did not need special Islamic courts, which would foster a sense of parallel justice system. Furthermore, as many people in the West associate Sharia law with brutal punishments and human rights violations, some people commented that there was no room for a barbarous and human law system. However, these people overlook elements of Sharia law that are less horrifying.
Baden-Württemnerg’s Integration Minister Bilkay Öney (SPD) has called on church-run care institutions to hire more Muslim staff. She is hoping to remove barriers for Muslim caregivers who are not invited to interviews, as their names give away their background. This initiative is one of Öney’s central objectives for 2012.
Aydan Özoguz, MP and aspiring vice-chairwoman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has distanced herself from her radical Islamic brothers. Yavuz and Gürhan Özoguz run the anti-Israel and Pro-Iranian internet portal “Muslim-Markt” and were observed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution for several years. Özoguz, who is hoping to the first chairwoman of the SPD with Turkish origins, wants to be seen and judged for who she is, independent of her brothers.