A controversial signal

In the debate on the role of Islam in Germany, the SPD and the Greens have spoken out in favor of recognizing Islam as a religious community by the state and thus placing it on an equal legal footing with Christian churches. Union politicians, on the other hand, are distancing themselves.

The "Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung" (Thursday) said the spokesman for domestic policy of the SPD parliamentary group, Dieter Wiefelsputz, "it would be an important signal to the four million Muslims in Germany if the state recognized Islam as a religious community". It is now necessary to push the dialogue with the Muslim umbrella organizations to create the legal conditions. "Islam needs a fair chance in Germany," Wiefelsputz demanded.

Conducive to integration
Memet Kilic, the integration policy spokesman for the Green parliamentary group, expressed similar views in the newspaper. "Recognition of Islam as a religious community with equal rights would give Muslims the feeling that they are welcome and have arrived in Germany," the Green politician said. This can only be beneficial for integration.

Unfortunately, the current debate in the CDU/CSU about the role of Islam in Germany is having the opposite effect. "The Union must put an end to its neurotic self-preoccupation as soon as possible," Kilic said.
Wiefelsputz said that the CDU and CSU were "conducting the debates of the day before yesterday on the subject of integration. Islam is irrevocably and indisputably a part of Germany.

Trigger was speech of the Federal President
The trigger for the new Islam debate in Germany was President Wulff's speech on German Unity Day. On 3. Among other things, Wulff had said on October 1: "There is no doubt that Christianity belongs to Germany. Judaism is undoubtedly part of Germany. This is our Christian-Jewish history. But Islam is now also part of Germany.

While the speech was received positively in many quarters, it also sparked opposition in the ranks of the CDU and CSU. "Our basic values are clearly based in the Christian occidental tradition," Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) stressed in the "Suddeutsche Zeitung". There is "no reason at all to integrate Islam into our system of values". Germany expects everyone to integrate fully into society, regardless of origin or religion. "However, Germany does not want to integrate Islam, but rather to preserve its cultural identity," Herrmann said.

Religious roots lie in Christianity and youthfulness
Federal Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen (CDU) backed the German president. "His speech was a commitment to the people of Muslim faith who live here and want to live here," Rottgen told the "Passauer Neue Presse" newspaper. But it was clear – and Wulff had also said so – that "Germany's religious and cultural roots lie in Christianity and Judaism."The deputy head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Gunter Krings (CDU), also expressed his distancing. "Islam is part of the reality here, but it is not part of the traditional, evolved culture in Germany," he told the "Suddeutsche Zeitung. "There are also values held within Islam that I don't want to see in German culture, for example on the position of women in society."

Religious instruction at state expense
If Islam were to be treated as a religious community on an equal footing with the Christian churches, this would result in a number of advantages. For example, the right to have the state collect taxes for its own purposes or to teach religion in schools at the state's expense.

The chairman of the Turkish community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, said on Thursday on SWR 2 radio that in a few decades we would be talking about a "Christian-Jewish-Islamic culture in Germany". "At the moment, however, certain politicians still see this as the downfall of the Federal Republic."

Shift change urge is great
On the situation of migrants, Kolat said that many of them are doing better than is often amed. The school-leaving qualifications of young people would improve. Also, "the urge to change shifts is much greater among the Turkish and Arab lower classes" than among Germans. – This Thursday, the Bundestag will debate the report by the Federal Government Commissioner for Integration, Maria Bohmer, on the situation of foreigners in Germany.

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