Muslim associations and Green Party in Lower Saxony criticize Minister of Interior

November 26


Muslim associations in Lower Saxony have criticized Minster of Interior Uwe  Schünemann (CDU) for defining Muslims as a marginal group. The associations did not accept to dialogue with the Ministry of Interior in July, after Minister Schünemann had refused to withdraw his “checklist” for the recognition of Islamists. Emine Oguz, a lawyer of the Islamic Union Institute for Religion – Ditib said, Schünemann would continue the checklist and keep controlling the mosques.


The migration policy speaker of the Green party Filiz Polat, criticized the government of Lower Saxony for ignoring the situation of Muslims. The Green party claims to record criminal offences against Muslims. Also, the Greens plan to include the situation of Muslims as an issue for the upcoming elections in Lower Saxony. The share of the Muslim population in Lower Saxony is about 6,2%.

Extremism check-list in Lower Saxony

June 17

A new initiative of the Ministry of Interior of Lower Saxony raised concern among German Muslim associations. The Bremen and Lower Saxony branches of the Muslim associations Ditib and the Shura of Lower Saxony cancelled a scheduled meeting for Monday with the local Ministry of Interior Uwe Schünemann (CDU). The reason for such concern is the publication of a checklist, which has been released in a booklet by the Ministry. The publication, titled: “Radicalization processes in the fields of Islamist Extremism and Terrorism”, is part of the “anti-radicalization concept”, implemented by the Lower Saxony institutions. The checklist includes behavioral and visible “indices” for the public to recognize Muslims who would potentially lean to terrorism, including weight loss, evident interest in sports and the insistence for privacy.

The Minister of Interior Schünemann has showed his willingness to discuss some of the issues. However, Muslim associations reject the checklist as a conceptual failure and request the cancellation of the whole project.

Avni Altiner, a representative of the Lower Saxony Mosque Association, warned that “such generalization would lead to a climate of fear”. The migration policy speaker of the Lower Saxony Green party, Ms. Filiz Polat, has asked Schünemann to send his apologies to Muslim associations and criticized the Minister of Interior for his attempts to forge ahead against the Muslim community. Polat sees the Extremism checklist as the rock bottom of the relationship between Muslims and the government of Lower Saxony. Laws that allow investigations of mosques without a given suspicion, she declared, would diminish religious rights and hinder any effort for dialogue.

German Islam Conference avoid issue on Salafism

April 18


The Federal Ministry of Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) has rejected the proposal of the Interior Minister of Lower Saxony Uwe Schünemann (CDU) to include the issue of Koran distribution by Salafist activists in the agenda for the upcoming Islam Conference.

Since the beginning of April, Salafist groups have been distributing free copies of the Koran in several German cities. Mr. Schünemann has called for an agreement against Salafism and proposed a strategic approach plan including anti-radicalization and prevention against Islamist Extremism and Terrorism. In his letter to the Federal Minister of Interior, he declares to expect Muslim associations to stand up united against what he calls an “instrumentalization of Islam”. Since the initiative of the former Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in 2006, domestic Security has become one of the main issues within other in the German Islam Conference.

Lower Saxony: Muslim Organisations Criticize De-Radicalisation Programme


Last week, Lower Saxony’s interior minister Uwe Schünemann presented his proposal for a de-

radicalisation programme designed to prevent young Muslims from being lured into extremist

groups. With his proposal, Schünemann continues his hardliner course on extremism and terrorism;

in 2010, he had already proposed a plan to fight an increasing terror threat, which was meant to lead

to a national action plan for inner security.

Schünemann’s most recent proposal is based on a close partnership between security services and,

for instance, mosques, city councils, youth services, foreign offices, and social services. An important

element of the proposal is the possibility to exchange personal information about individuals

suspected to support religious extremism or even terrorism. In addition, Schünemann is planning

on making employers more aware of and receptive to radicalisation processes amongst their staff.

Overall, Schünemann’s proposal is reminiscent of the highly controversial “security partnership”

proposed by federal minister of the interior Friedrich at the Islam Conference in 2011.

When he initially presented the programme last week, Schünemann claimed that it had been

developed in close cooperation with Muslim communities and organisations. However, the two

Muslim organisations Ditib and Schura countered that they were only included in the development of

the programme when they demanded to be involved after they had heard about it by chance. Their

critical remarks, however, were not considered in the development of the proposal.

After its presentation, the Muslim organisations heavily criticized Schünemann’s proposal, as it

places Muslims under general suspicion. Ditib and Schura distanced themselves from the programme

and expressed their rather sceptical stance.

Imams made in Germany

16 September 2010
The German government plans to enlist imams educated at German universities to improve the integration of young Muslims in the future. The program, however, threatens to create a conflict between Germany and Turkey and with Muslim organizations.
In the wake of the grim conclusions reached by Thilo Sarrazin, a former executive board member of Germany’s central bank, the Germans have launched into an impassioned debate over why so many Muslims fail in the country — in school, at work and in society. Hanover criminologist Christian Pfeiffer, who interviewed 45,000 young people nationwide, describes one of the key reasons: “Imams from abroad, with no understanding of the reality of life here in Germany, contribute substantially to the poor integration of young German Muslims.” According to Pfeiffer, the more devout Muslim youth also tend to be more isolated from German society. Anyone who hopes to change this, says Pfeiffer, “has to start with the imams”.
Politicians of all stripes are welcoming the idea, but whether it is truly feasible remains uncertain. Even if everything goes according to plan, the eagerly anticipated imams, with their German university degrees, could end up being unemployed, at least initially. Currently, imams are either working on a voluntary basis or are financed by other countries such as Turkey. Uwe Schünemann (CDU), interior minister of the northwestern state of Lower Saxony, has proposed that the new imams be offered half-time jobs as religion teachers in schools. This would enable state and local governments to share the costs, an idea that appeals to Schavan. But a nationwide discussion about Schünemann’s idea hasn’t even begun yet.