The major Muslims associations have called Muslims to participate at the upcoming election for the German Bundestag. Associations such as the Turkish Community in Berlin (TGB), Islamic Community Milli Görüs (IGMG), the Association of Islamic Cultural Centers (VIKZ), the Turkish Islamic Union Institute for Religion (DITIB) and the European Turkish Union have organized information meetings in mosques and Islamic centers across Germany to inform Muslims about the relevance of the upcoming elections.
Muslim immigrants have the opportunity to access information about the parties and their programs. Issues such as the dual citizenship are popular among immigrants. Albeit Muslims associations inform citizens about the political system, the parties and the political issues, they remain neutral in terms of any recommendation.
Kenan Kolat, head of the Berlin-based Turkish Community in Germany, expressed the demand to hire more migrants in civic services. Kolat defined Germany as an Immigration country that needs more migrants. Migrants are still understaffed in ministries, administrations or in the police. With reference to the NSU trials and the failures of the security services, Kolat proposed to discuss about racism in a future summit. Institutional and structural racism would be part of today´s reality in Germany.
Joachim Gauck was elected as the new head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany last week. The Mulsim organisations in Germany congratulated the new president to his election. The Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany, for instance, is hoping for a cooperative partnership between the Germany’s Muslim communities and associations and the new head of the state. The Council’s representatives were particularly optimistic about Gauck’s statement about the central importance of integration policy. Gauck said he wanted to follow on the path of his successor, Christian Wulff. Aiman Mazyek, Head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, also wished Gauck mall the best for his new position. He assured Gauck that the Muslims in Germany will make their contribution to the freedom and welfare of our state – but he also said they were hoping to become an integral part of German society.
Others are more sceptical about the election of Gauck. Mehmet Kilic, for instance, Turkish-born spokesman on integration for the Green Party group in the German parliament, considers Gauck to be the wrong choice fort he position. More specifically, he objects toGauck’s evident understanding for the views of Thilo Sarrazin, who published a highly controversial book (Germany does away with itself) in 2010 (as reported). Similarly, Kenan Kolat, head oft he Turkish Community in Germany, is still disappointed about Wulff’s designation, who had particularly lobbied for a stronger acceptance of Islam as part of Germany.
Following the resignation of the German President Christian Wulff on Friday February 17th, migrant organisations and Muslim associations have articulated their regret about Wulff’s decision. Wulff, who finally bowed to public and political pressures and a lack of trust after allegations of corruption and blurred lines between personal, business, and political advantages had dominated discussions about him, enjoyed a reputation of being the president that migrants needed. In one of his early speeches, Wulff publicly acknowledged that Germany was, indeed, a country of immigration and, more importantly, that Islam was now an integral part of German society.
Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, expressed his respect for Wulff’s decision – but also for what he had achieved as a key figure for integration in Germany. Kolat is hoping for a successor who takes integration as seriously as Wulff did. Similarly, the Turkish Islamic Union (DITIB) considered Wulff to be the president that was much needed by migrants and Muslims in Germany to foster their integration. Ayman Mazyek, chair of the central councils of Muslims in Germany, appeared optimistic that Wulff’s successor would continue on his path with respect to integration.
31.01. & 01./02.02.2012
Last Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel hosted the fifth German integration summit, bringing together politicians and representatives of different immigrant groups and organizations.
When Merkel initiated the first integration summit in 2006, she made the integration of Germany’s migrant population a top political priority. At this first summit, the participants agreed on developing a national integration plan, which was presented at the second summit in 2007 and meant to be the basis for integration work in subsequent years. The third and fourth summits were, then, opportunities to assess what had been achieved – with many critical voices as to the progress with respect to integration made so far.
Amongst other things, this year’s summit focused specifically on the issue of language skills, which had already been a priority of recent summits as well as in the national integration plan. In addition, the summit focused on structures of the German state that essentially prevent immigrants from working in the civil service or civil service organizations. In this context, a particular goal formulated at the summit was to raise the number of migrants in these official positions. Furthermore, the summit’s participants talked about the recently uncovered right-wing terrorism cell in Germany. They called for more tolerance and a new “culture of welcome” in Germany as a clear sign against racism and right-wing ideologies. The participants then agreed on an “national action plan” to bring forward the practical implementation of the National Integration Plan.
As in previous years, the summit was – once again – criticized by opposition parties and migrant organizations for its mere symbolic character. Kenan Kolat, for instance, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, argued that the euphoria surrounding the first integration summits is over and it has now turned into a mere show-event.
Following the most recent findings in a series of right-wing violence in Germany, various migrant organisations are alarmed and call for protests. The chair of the central council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, described the killings of a female police officer in Heilbronn and nine shop owner with migrant backgrounds as a form of terrorism – more specifically, he said it was a classic form of “home-grown terrorism”. He warned not to take Islamophobic and xenophobic tendencies lightly. Similarly, Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, said it was a form of right-terror, which had to be stopped. He called on all Germans to participate in protests against right-wing terrorism.
In a letter to the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant this week, a group of Dutch Turkish professionals expressed concern regarding the position of youth in the community. According to the letter, a growing number of young Dutch Turks feel they are “second class citizens and will remain so”, an exclusion which has perpetuated feelings of apathy and encouraged a turn to crime and radical Islam among the contingent. The open letter drafted by a group of teachers, researchers and civil servants urges the government to ensure that the youth get the education and leadership they need.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide covers the issue with a commentary indicating that the disintegration of a close knit Turkish community safety net in the Netherlands results from an ageing first generation immigrant population and lack of funding and subsidies to community organizations, and claims that those who are well educated often “return” to Turkey, thus “turning their backs” on upcoming generations of Dutch Turkish youth in need of role models.
A proposal by Germany’s Turkish Community to have schools observe one Muslim holiday annually has set off a fierce debate in Germany. Most are opposed, though some say it would promote tolerance. German politicians and religious organizations broadly shot down a proposal by Germany’s Turkish Community (TGD) for schools to close one day out of the year to observe a Muslim holiday.
The head of the TGD, Kenan Kolat prompted the debate when he suggested that the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, could become a school holiday for all students. “That would be a sign of tolerance,” Kolat said. The Central Council of Jews supported Kolat’s proposal, and suggested that the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur be observed by schools as well.
However, many politicians and church representatives, as well as the Central Council of Muslims, came out against the idea. “I see no reason to turn this day (Eid al-Fitr) into a general school holiday or bank holiday for everybody,” Aiman Mazyek, secretary general of the Central Council of Muslims told German press agency dpa, saying it was good enough that Muslim students were excused from attending school on their religious holidays.
The chairman of Germany’s Protesant Church, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, said that there was a “priority for Christian holidays in the culture of our country” based on millennia of Christian influence in Germany.
CAIRO – An integration summit called by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to bring ethnic minorities into mainstream society was overshadowed by a boycott of Turks, the country’s largest minority, in protest at the recently approved integration law that they say discriminates against Muslims, reported Deutsche Welle on Friday, July 13. “The Turkish community is not taken seriously,” said Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD). Kolat said the Turks boycotted the one-day summit on Thursday, July 12, in protest at amendments to the immigration act approved by parliament earlier this week.