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Mosques to become bigger part of German life – Chancellor Angela Merkel

By Reuters Staff
September 19, 2010

germany mosque 1

(Photo: Khadija Mosque in Berlin October 16, 2008/Fabrizio Bensch)

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germans had for too long failed to grasp how immigration was changing their country and would have to get used to the sight of more mosques in their cities.

Germany, home to at least 4 million Muslims, has been divided in recent weeks by a debate over integration sparked by disparaging remarks about Muslim immigrants by an outspoken member of the country’s central bank.

“Our country is going to carry on changing, and integration is also a task for the society taking up the immigrants,” Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Saturday. “For years we’ve been deceiving ourselves about this. Mosques, for example, are going to be a more prominent part of our cities than they were before,” she added.

The uproar sparked by the Bundesbank’s Thilo Sarrazin, who argued Turkish and Arab immigrants were failing to integrate and swamping Germany with a higher birth rate, is one of several recent prominent disputes touching on religion and integration.  Read the full story by Dave Graham here.

In the interview, Merkel also said “we now have to ask the question whether we should train imams here in our country who accept the principles of our state and legal order, or whether preachers should continue in the next few decades to come mostly from Turkey.

“I said that mosques will be a more prominent part of our urban landscape than before. Our constitution guarantees freedom of religion. I also say that everyone must respect our laws and all articles of our constitution. We cannot allow parallel societies where our basic rights, for example the equality of man and woman, do not apply. Only on the basis of our constitution can we live together in tolerance and respect. Everyone who lives here must accept that.”

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(Photo: Imam Ali Mosque in Hamburg, August 22, 2006/Christian Charisius)

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