Does Islam Belong to Germany?
“Islam is a political ideology that is not compatible with the German Constitution.”
by Soeren Kern
July 5, 2016
“Former German President Christian Wulff said: ‘Islam belongs to Germany.’ That is true. This is also my opinion.” — Chancellor Angela Merkel, January 12, 2015.
“Angela Merkel’s statement obscures the real problem: A growing proportion of Muslim citizens in Europe does not share the Western system of values, does not want to culturally integrate and seals itself off in parallel societies.” — Thilo Sarrazin, renowned former central banker and a member of the Social Democrats, January 20, 2015.
“Islam is not a religion like Catholicism or Protestantism. Intellectually, Islam is always linked to the overthrow of the state. Therefore, the Islamization of Germany poses a threat.” — Alexander Gauland, AfD party leader for Brandenburg, April 17, 2016.
“An Islam that does not respect our legal system and even fights against it and claims to be the only valid religion is incompatible with our legal system and culture. Many Muslims live according to our laws and are integrated and are accepted as valued members of our society. However, the AfD wants to prevent the emergence of Islamic parallel societies with Sharia judges.” — AfD Manifesto.
“Anyone who believes Islam belongs to Germany should not hesitate to go one step further and declare: Sharia law belongs to Germany. Without Sharia law, there is no authentic Islam.” — Henryk Broder, German journalist, May 16, 2016.
Nearly two-thirds of Germans believe that Islam does not belong to Germany, according to a recent opinion poll, which also found that only 22% of Germans consider Islam to be an integral part of German society.
In a similar poll conducted in January 2015, 37% of Germans said that Islam belongs to Germany, 15% more than now. The results indicate that German attitudes toward Islam are hardening after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow more than 1.1 million mostly Muslim migrants to enter Germany in 2015.
The poll has opened yet another chapter in the decade-long debate over the phrase, “Islam belongs to Germany.” The words were first uttered in September 2006 — at the time there were 3.5 million Muslims in Germany, compared to nearly six million today — by then Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Speaking ahead of the first-ever German-Islam Conference, the first institutionalized dialogue between representatives of the German government and of Muslims in Germany, Schäuble said: “Islam is a part of Germany and a part of Europe. Islam is a part of our present and a part of our future. Muslims are welcome in Germany.”
The phrase was repeated in October 2010 by Germany’s then president, Christian Wulff, during a keynote speech to mark the 20th anniversary of German reunification. Wulff proclaimed that “Islam belongs to Germany” because millions of Muslims now live there:
“Christianity doubtless belongs to Germany. Judaism belongs unequivocally to Germany. This is our Judeo-Christian history. But now Islam also belongs to Germany (Der Islam gehört inzwischen auch zu Deutschland).”
Wulff then quoted the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who in his West-Eastern Diwan (West–östlicher Divan, 1819) wrote: “He who knows himself and others will understand: East and West are no longer separable.”
Since then, a debate has raged over the increasingly contentious question of Muslim immigration, integration and the role of Islam in German society. The University of Bonn launched a research project entitled, “How much Islam belongs to Germany?” The Konrad Adenauer Foundation published a paper: “Which Islam belongs to Germany?” According to the head of the Lutheran Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, only “Democratic Islam” belongs to Germany.
What follows is an abridged historical review of the phrase “Islam belongs to Germany.”
March 3, 2011. In his first press conference as German Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich said that Islam does not belong to Germany: “To say that Islam belongs in Germany is not a fact supported by history at any point.” He added that Muslim immigrants should respect the “Western Christian origin of our culture.” His comments set off a firestorm of criticism from the guardians of German multiculturalism.
March 4, 2011. Wolfgang Bosbach, of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), defended Friedrich: “I like politicians who say what they think. Islam is part of the reality of Germany, but it is not part of German identity.”
March 5, 2011. Alexander Dobrindt, the General Secretary of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel’s CDU, said: “Of course there are Muslims in Germany. But Islam is not part of the German mainstream culture (Leitkultur).” CDU parliamentary leader Volker Kauder said: “Islam has not shaped our society in the past and it does not do so today. Therefore, Islam does not belong to Germany.”
May 31, 2012. The new German President, Joachim Gauck, distanced himself from Wulff’s comments: “The reality is that many Muslims live in our country. I would have simply said that the Muslims who live here belong to Germany.” He added: “Where has Islam shaped Europe? Did Islam experience the Enlightenment, or even a Reformation?”
January 12, 2015. Chancellor Angela Merkel, during a meeting in Berlin with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, declared: “Former German President Christian Wulff said: ‘Islam belongs to Germany.’ That is true. This is also my opinion.” She stressed the need to “strengthen the dialogue between religions because there is still too much ignorance.”
January 13, 2015. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the former interior minister, challenged Merkel’s claim that Islam belongs to Germany:
“The Muslims who live in this country, who are committed to this country, belong to Germany, no question. There is nothing to deny and nothing to relativize. But I can see nowhere that Islam belongs to Germany. Islam is not a formative, constitutive element of the identity of our country.
“The issue revolves around the question of what is constitutive, of what makes the identity of this country. And the identity of this country, developed over centuries, is not Islam but a Christian culture, based on Christian and Jewish roots.
“Islam is not a defining element of the identity of this country. Anyone who travels through Germany can see this. They can see churches and paintings, they can listen to music that comes from many centuries of ecclesial roots; they can see art and architecture which are marked by Christianity.
“Whether Islam will be a defining element of Europe or Germany in centuries from now, only time will tell.”
January 20, 2015. Thilo Sarrazin, a renowned former German central banker and a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) who has been warning Germans for years about the consequences of mass migration, criticized Merkel:
“When the Chancellor says she is of the opinion that Islam is part of Europe’s tradition and culture, she is mistaken. When Angela Merkel says that Muslims should enjoy full citizenship in Germany and will be welcome if they integrate, her statement is true, although banal.”
He said that Islam “with all its radical, violent manifestations” arrived in Germany only in the last 40 years due to “unplanned and uncontrolled mass immigration into German society.” He added: “In addition, Angela Merkel’s statement obscures the real problem: A growing proportion of Muslim citizens in Europe does not share the Western system of values, does not want to culturally integrate and seals itself off in parallel societies.”
June 30, 2015. Merkel, speaking in Berlin after an Iftar, an evening meal that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan, declared: “It is indisputably obvious that Islam now belongs to Germany.”
September 21, 2015. Edmund Stoiber, the Honorary Chairman of Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) said: “I cannot accept the phrase, ‘Islam belongs to Germany.’ Muslims belong to Germany, but Islam does not. Islam is not a core element of German culture and has not shaped our intellectual history and tradition.”
April 17, 2016. Beatrix von Storch, the Deputy Chairperson of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), now the third-most popular political party in Germany, said: “Many Muslims belong to Germany, but Islam does not belong to Germany. Islam is at base a political ideology that is not compatible with the German Constitution.”
Alexander Gauland, the leader of the AfD in Brandenburg, elaborated: “Islam is not a religion like Catholicism or Protestantism. Intellectually, Islam is always linked to the overthrow of the state. Therefore, the Islamization of Germany poses a threat.”
May 1, 2016. The AfD adopted a manifesto calling for curbs to migration and restrictions on Islam. The document calls for a ban on minarets, Muslim calls to prayer and full-face veils:
“Islam does not belong to Germany. The AfD views the spread of Islam and the growing number of Muslims in Germany as a great danger for our country, our society and our system of values. An Islam that does not respect our legal system and even fights against it and claims to be the only valid religion is incompatible with our legal system and culture. Many Muslims live according to our laws and are integrated and are accepted as valued members of our society. However, the AfD wants to prevent the emergence of Islamic parallel societies with sharia judges. The AfD wants to prevent Muslims from radicalizing and turning to violent Salafism and religious terrorism.”
May 5, 2016. CDU parliamentary leader Volker Kauder said that Christian Wulff’s choice of words in 2010 were “well-intentioned but imprecise.” He said that while Muslims belong to Germany, Islam certainly does not: “Germany has not been historically or culturally shaped by Islam.” According to Kauder, Islam has many manifestations, “some of which we can never accept in Germany.” He added: “For us, religion is never above the state.” He said that religious freedom is not unlimited, but is restrained by the German Constitution.
May 16, 2016. The German journalist Henryk Broder wrote:
“Anyone who believes Islam belongs to Germany should not hesitate to go one step further and declare: Sharia law belongs to Germany. Without Sharia law, there is no authentic Islam. The ‘Euro-Islam’ desired by many is a chimera, as was ‘Euro-communism’ during the Cold War.
“This would significantly facilitate peaceful coexistence on a firm foundation. It would also be the end of all debates — about the equality of men and women, marriage for all, headscarves in the civil service, the separation of power in politics, separation of church and state, caricatures and satires. We would save a lot of time and could turn to the really relevant questions. For example: Was Jesus the first Muslim?”
After Disastrous Berlin Election, Angela Merkel Admits “Mistakes Were Made” On Migrant Crisis
After the CDU’s latest disastrous showing in Sunday’s Berlin election, which as reported last night saw Germany’s conservative party end second with only 17.6% of the vote, dropping 5.7% from the 2011 election, and marking its worst performance in the capital since German reunification, Angela Merkel took responsibility for her party’s disastrous showing in Sunday’s Berlin state election, “admitting mistakes in her handling of last year’s refugee crisis.”
As reported by the Guardian, in an unusually self-critical but also combative speech, the German chancellor said on Monday afternoon she was “fighting” to make sure that there would be no repetition of the chaotic scenes on Germany’s borders last year, when *****“for some time, we didn’t have enough control” adding that “No one wants this to be repeated, and I don’t either,” Ms. Merkel said of last year’s refugee influx at Germany’s borders. “We have learned from history.”
*****Still, Merkel did not distance herself from her decision last September to keep open Germany’s borders to thousands of refugees stranded at Budapest’s Keleti station. The mistake, the chancellor said, was that she and her government had not been quicker to prepare for the mass movement of people triggered by conflicts in the Middle East.
“If I could, I would turn back time many, many years to be able to better prepare myself and the whole government and all those in positions of responsibility for the situation that met us rather unprepared in late summer 2015,” Ms. Merkel said at a news conference at her party’s headquarters in the German capital.
As the WSJ adds, Merkel reacted to her party’s latest electoral loss by sticking to her migration policy on Monday but acknowledging, more explicitly than before, that she had made mistakes along the way. Merkel described her center-right Christian Democratic Union’s second-place performance in Sunday’s election in the city-state of Berlin as a “very unsatisfactory, disappointing” result. She acknowledged widespread public discomfort with the influx of more than a million asylum applicants to Germany this year and last and said that she heard voters’ concerns.
Nevertheless, Ms. Merkel—whose steadfast refusal to close the German border to asylum seekers has become a focal point in the global debate over how to treat refugees—said she would stick to her current policy. She said she was guided both by a conviction that Germany has a duty to take in people in need but also that the sort of chaotic, mass influx of people as this country experienced last year had to be prevented.
That said, perhaps confirming the realization she may have made a mistake, on Saturday she said she would no longer use “we can do it” as her rallying cry to welcome and integrate migrants in the belief it has become a mere slogan, the local.de reported. Merkel first used the much-repeated phrase at the end of August last year to lay out her welcoming stance on migrants, after saying Germany could cope with an influx of around one million refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria. But as the worst migrant crisis in Europe since World War II has continued Merkel has come under pressure and her approval ratings have plunged.
But back to Sunday’s election, where Germany’s two governing establishment parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic party (SPD) on Sunday night both plummeted to the worst Berlin result in their parties’ histories, while both leftwing Die Linke and anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) enjoyed impressive gains.
On Monday, Merkel admitted she had in the past failed to sufficiently explain her refugee policy, and that her phrase “Wir schaffen das” (“We can do it ”) had “provoked” some of those who didn’t agree with her political course. Her words will be interpreted as an olive branch to the leader of her CDU’s sister party, the Bavarian CSU, who have in recent months repeatedly called on her to distance herself from the much-cited slogan.
For too long, Merkel said, she had relied on the Dublin procedure, “which, to put it simply, had taken the problem off Germany’s hands”, adding: “And that was not good”.
The 62-year-old also rebutted the CSU’s calls for a “static upper limit” to the amount of asylum seekers Germany could accept in 2016, arguing that it “would not solve the problem”. *****Banning people from entering the country on the basis of their religion, she said, would be incompatible with Germany’s constitution and her own party’s “ethical foundation”.
Of course, one alternative is watching as her approval rating implodes in not so slow-motion, and as her CDU continues to tank in future elections.
Merkel lamented that the European Union as a whole was failing to recognise the refugee as “a global and a moral challenge”. “What we are seeing in Europe is a realisation that we are no longer leading the field when it comes to globalisation, we are not setting the pace.
“In 1990, when the wall fell, the cold war came to an end and freedom blossomed everywhere; it looked like we were on an irreversible road to victory, and that it was just up to the rest of the world to join our model. Freedom had won. It now turns out things aren’t that simple”.
Somewhere George Soros is smiling.