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Merkel ally says Islam not part of Germany

20 April 2012 General 4 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

(Reuters) – A leading conservative politician said on Thursday that Islam did not belong in Germany, fuelling tension at a conference on integrating Muslims that also debated a controversial Salafist campaign to hand out copies of the Koran across the country.

“Islam is not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong in Germany,” Volker Kauder, head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, told the Passauer Neue Presse.

“But Muslims do belong in Germany. As state citizens, of course, they enjoy their full rights,” he added.

His remarks added to a highly charged nationwide debate about a campaign by an ultra-conservative Salafist Muslim group to hand out millions of free German translations of the Koran to non-Muslims.

The conference was one of a series hosted by the government to improve the integration of the four million Muslims living in Germany, 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 has a population of about 81 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.

In response to concern about radicalization and aware of the stimulus a well-qualified cohort of young Muslims could give to Europe’s biggest economy, Merkel set up forums, or conferences, six years ago to improve integration.

Kauder’s comments quickly drew fire.

“Volker Kauder is the last crusader for the conservatives. He is putting a bomb in the Islam conference,” said senior opposition Social Democrat (SPD) lawmaker Thomas Oppermann.

“(He).. is denigrating and marginalizing all Muslims in Germany. That course is utterly wrong,” he said.

CRITICS SAY CAMPAIGN IDEOLOGICAL

Participants at Thursday’s Islam conference, comprising delegates from the federal and state governments and Islamic groups, discussed the controversial distribution of the Koran by Salafist group “The True Religion” in Germany.

Critics, many from Merkel’s traditionally Catholic party, say the campaign is ideological, aimed at recruiting supporters.

“Religion must not be allowed to be misused for ideological claims to power,” said Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich.

“We (the conference) agree that Salafist extremism is not acceptable and does not fit in a free society as we have in Germany,” he said, adding that Salafists did not enjoy the support of the majority of Muslims in Germany.

The group has already handed out at least 300,000 copies of the translated Koran at stands on the streets of German cities.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has described Ibrahim Abu Nagie, who launched the campaign, as a prominent exponent of Salafism, which has its roots in Saudi Arabia, and German authorities view his website as a hub for radical Islamists.

Some Muslim groups have also criticized the handouts, though for a different reason. The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany has said the Koran is not a PR pamphlet for mass distribution.

The campaign poses a dilemma as any move to stop the distribution of the Koran – a perfectly legal activity – could be seen as anti-Islamic.

Kenan Kolat, the head of Turkish Communities in Germany, warned against hysteria. “If there is a glorification of violence or an infringement of free, democratic basic values, then there are police measures that can be used,” said Kolat.

The Islam conference also discussed gender equality and condemned domestic violence and forced marriage.

Two years ago a painful row erupted over a bestseller by former central banker Thilo Sarrazin, who said Turkish and Arab immigrants sponged off the state and threatened German culture.

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

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, editing by Gareth Jones and Tim Pearce)

Original post: Merkel ally says Islam not part of Germany

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4 Comments »

  1. Oh just get rid of all damn religions and that will solve it all ….Dumb asses

  2. no, it won’t. There is still every other ideology in the world, nationalism, racism, fascism, marxism, plus plain old greed and ambition. Religion is something with great potential for good misused by those that see an opportunity for evil. Get rid of religion, they’ll find something else to use, just as they always have and always will. Getting rid of religion will make absolutely no difference. Sorry to rain on your anti-theist parade.

  3. of course getting rid of religion won’t solve every problem. but it will eliminate the religious fighting, wars. it would be a good start.

  4. You would also lose the vast majority of charity organizations on earth, vital community organization centers for most countries, not to mention that religion often prevents as much war as it causes. A case would be Iran. Iran is united by one thing: Shi’a Islam. Remove that, and it is a senseless conglomerate of ethnicities and cultures that would likely be at each others throats in no time. Another example would be Mexico. Churches are vital centers for community organization and integration in place of the ineffective government. When churches fail in areas, like they did in states such a Michoacan, the drug Cartels take hold and start organizing the community, since the government is still unable to provide decent service. religion disappearing = cartel’s expanding. Yes, religion is misused for violence, but that is only because it is available to do so. If it’s not religion it’ll be something else. Look at most of the conflicts in Africa. It is one of the most wartorn regions on Earth, and yet very little of it is because of religion, but rather ethnic conflicts, ideological disputes (marxism vs democracy vs military junta vs nationalist dictatorship), and greed (blood diamonds, oil conflicts in Nigeria). There would be just as many wars, just over different things. The problem isn’t religion. The problem is human nature, which extends to religion.

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