Islam not part of Germany: Merkel ally

2012-04-19 15:01

Berlin - A leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives said on Thursday that Islam did not belong to Germany, remarks sure to stir controversy as the government hosts a conference to improve the integration of Muslims.

A row over whether an ultra-conservative Salafist Muslim group should be allowed to hand out millions of free German translations of the Qur'an to non-Muslims had already raised tensions and threatened to overshadow the conference.

"Islam is not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong to Germany," Volker Kauder, head of Merkel's conservative bloc in parliament, told the Passauer Neue Presse.

"But Muslims belong to Germany. As state citizens, of course, they enjoy their full rights."

Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims, about half of whom have German citizenship. Many came from Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s and their hard work contributed to Germany's post-war economic miracle. Germany's total population is about 80 million.

While some people of Turkish origin have risen to prominent political and public positions, many others live in their own communities and studies show many youngsters struggle to learn German properly, limiting their chances of finding work.

Painful row

In response to concerns about radicalisation and aware of the potential boost a well-qualified cohort of young Muslims could give to Europe's biggest economy, Merkel set up forums six years ago to improve integration, a highly charged issue.

Two years ago a painful row erupted over a bestselling book by former central banker Thilo Sarrazin, who argued that Turkish and Arab immigrants sponged off the state and threatened Germany's culture.

Soon after, Germany's then-President Christian Wulff won wide praise from Muslims by saying Islam was part of Germany.

Thursday's conference is set to discuss the controversial distribution of the Qur'an by Salafists.

The group "The True Religion" has already handed out several hundred thousand copies on streets across Germany, drawing criticism from many in Merkel's conservative bloc, which is traditionally Catholic. The printer has now stopped printing the books.

Liberal spirit

Some Muslim groups have also criticised the Qur'an campaign but Kenan Kolat, the head of Turkish Communities in Germany, warned against hysteria.

"If there is a glorification of violence, if there is an infringement of free, democratic basic values, then there are police measures that can be used," said Kolat.

"A statement by the Islam Conference which stresses the open and liberal spirit of our Republic against the background of the distribution of the Qur'an by Salafists would be a good signal," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told Spiegel Online. She is a member of the Free Democrats (FDP), Merkel's liberal junior coalition partner.

Officially the Islam conference, comprising delegates from the federal and state governments and Islamic groups, will discuss questions such as forced marriage and the influence of Islamist groups on young people.

  • Cris - 2012-04-19 18:49

    Its Half-wit not Whit you Twits. Hahahaha

      Ask - 2012-04-19 18:55


  • Abusufyaan - 2012-04-19 19:11

    I don't see a problem with Stopping salafists

  • jerry.frey3 - 2012-04-19 22:27

    Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities — but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome. –Winston Churchill – The River War, volume II pp. 248–50 (1899)

      Ask - 2012-04-20 00:46

      @jerry.frey3 - so what exactly is your point... Are you or are you not a Breivik supporter? You do realise that the topic for today is 'Islam not part of Germany: Merkel ally' However, that is Winston Churchill, as articulate as ever and what a joy to listen to him speak. your second insertion below Winston was a 'giveaway'... Breivik here we come...

  • Ask - 2012-04-19 23:56

    Whatever happened to 'brother' Oelschig... was it something I said?

  • Lauden Kirk - 2012-04-20 01:41

    We should all practice what we preach. What's good for you is good for me.

  • Joach - 2012-04-20 08:57

    This is exactly what Hitler tried to stop.

      Wayne - 2012-04-20 09:05

      he tried to stop the jews... ur history lesson was abit distorted

      Joach - 2012-04-20 09:22

      Dear Wayne, Hitler did not try to stop the jews. He tried exterminating them. The poor jews never engaged in conventional war with Hitler, all the other countries did however. The reason for my remark was that Hitler was so obsessed with his nation and country being racially pure and look at all their post war problems now. You clearly did not receive ANY history lesson what so ever. Don't try to be smart..please.

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