Germany holds inflamed debate on Islam and migration

October 18, 2010

merkel JUGermany’s inflamed public debate about Islam and integration risks serious overheating as politicians compete to make ever tougher statements criticizing Muslims immigrants they accuse of refusing to fit in here.

The escalating row, sparked off when a Bundesbank board member slammed Muslims as dim-witted welfare spongers, has mixed some social problems and some Muslim customs into a vision of Islam as a looming menace to German society.

(Photo: Chancellor Angela Merkel tells CDU meeting that multicultural policies have failed, in Potsdam, 16 Oct. 2010/Thomas Peter)

When President Christian Wulff tried to build bridges by saying Islam was now part of German society, critics retorted the country was based on “Judeo-Christian values” and should not accept any more immigrants from foreign cultures.

Amid the uproar, many politicians and media have lumped together about four million residents — Turks, Arabs, Afghans, converts and others, many with German citizenship — simply as Muslims and tarred them all with problems many do not have.

turkish shop berlinThe debate crackles with harsh terms like “Germanophobia” and “integration refusers” that signal growing frustration with the difficulty Germany has had with people it allowed into the country but did not welcome into the society.

(Photo: Turkish clothing sh0p in Berlin, 30 Oct.  2001/Fabrizio Bensch)

“The discourse about Muslims in Germany is gradually taking on hysterical forms,” wrote Andreas Petzold, editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Stern. “It’s very off-putting to watch this cascade of debates that, in the end, all focus on Islam.”

Read the full analysis here.

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