Friday, November 26, 2004

Expatica - Germany agonises over Islam

Germany agonises over Islam

Germany agonises over Islam

Concern that religious tensions along the lines of those sparked in the Netherlands by the brutal killing of Islam-critical filmmaker Theo van Gogh could spill over into Germany has triggered a fresh debate among Germans about integrating the nation's large foreign population. Leon Mangasarian reports.

Muslims comprise 4 percent of Germany's population
While Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has stepped-up a campaign calling on the country's big Muslim community to fit with the country's laws and its democratic principles, leading political figures in the nation have claimed that multiculturalism has failed in Germany.

This comes in the wake of a mass demonstration of Muslims in Germany against terror and growing alarm in the country over the torching of mosques, churches and schools in the Netherlands following the van Gogh killing.

There have also been press reports of a link between the van Gogh murder and Germany, with claims that one of those involved in the killing in the Netherlands lived in neighbouring Germany.

With 3.4 million Muslims comprising 4 percent of Germany's population, the question was put this way by a banner headline in the conservative Bild newspaper: "Is the hate going to come here?" asked the biggest selling tabloid.

The Berliner Zeitung, a left-leaning paper in the German capital where about 200,000 mainly Turkish Muslims live, claims to know the answer: "The feelings of hated against the majority Christian society are growing."

So far there has not been a high profile killing in Germany to match the stabbing and shooting of van Gogh. But a series of attacks on Jews in Berlin by Arab youths have sharply raised concerns.

Germany's tough-minded interior minister, Otto Schily, spoke at the weekend of "a danger" to the country despite successes in integrating the majority of immigrants.

Schily drew headlines earlier this year with a harsh warning to Islamic fundamentalists: "If you love death so much, then it can be yours."

German opposition conservatives are demanding a ban on preaching in mosques in any language other than German.

Calls for such a move were fuelled by a dramatic TV film secretly made in a Berlin mosque.

Is the hate going to come here?

"These Germans, these atheists, these Europeans don't shave under their arms and their sweat collects under their hair with a revolting smell and they stink," said the preacher at the Mevlana Mosque in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, in the film made by Germany's ZDF public TV, adding: "Hell lives for the infidels! Down with all democracies and all democrats!


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