FaithWorld

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

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.

Excerpts from Pope Benedict’s sermon on Cardinal John Henry Newman

newman (Photo: Pope Benedict at a beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham, September 19, 2010/Darren Staples)

Pope Benedict declared the 19th century English Cardinal John Henry Newman blessed — the first step on the road to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church — at a ceremony in Birmingham on Sunday.

Here are excerpts from his sermon:

“…This particular Sunday also marks a significant moment in the life of the British nation, as it is the day chosen to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain. For me as one who lived and suffered through the dark days of the Nazi regime in Germany, it is deeply moving to be here with you on this occasion, and to recall how many of your fellow citizens sacrificed their lives, courageously resisting the forces of that evil ideology. My thoughts go in particular to nearby Coventry, which suffered such heavy bombardment and massive loss of life in November 1940. Seventy years later, we recall with shame and horror the dreadful toll of death and destruction that war brings in its wake, and we renew our resolve to work for peace and reconciliation wherever the threat of conflict looms…”

“… In Blessed John Henry, that tradition of gentle scholarship, deep human wisdom and profound love for the Lord has borne rich fruit, as a sign of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit deep within the heart of God’s people, bringing forth abundant gifts of holiness.

Berlin issues guidelines on integrating Muslim pupils in schools

GERMANY SARRAZIN/TRIALIf you’re a teacher in Germany and are unsure whether to allow your Muslim pupils to pray at school, to skip swimming lessons or wear the veil, you may want to consult a new handbook aimed at dealing with the sometimes tricky task of reconciling Muslim practices with German schooling.

Berlin’s Ministry for Education, Science and Research has just published a guide called “Islam and School”  giving practical advice on how to resolve these issues and encourage “people to live together respectfully and peacefully”, which you can find in German here.

The guidelines aim to boost the integration of Germany’s Muslim community, Europe’s second largest Muslim population after France. Around 4 million Muslims live in Germany, meaning about 5 percent of the overall population.

from The Great Debate:

Islamophobia and a German central banker

How do you reconcile the traditions of many Muslim immigrants with the freedoms and values of 21st century Western Europe?

It's a question that has led to periodic outbursts of vigorous debate from France to Holland and Switzerland. In Germany, the discussion has been relatively subdued. Until now.

Why? A passage in a book considered so unsettling that its author, Thilo Sarrazin, was forced to resign from the board of Germany's central bank this month, provides part of the answer.

from Global News Journal:

German banker bows out after stirring race, religion debate

A German central banker, Thilo Sarrazin, whose outspoken comments on race and religion sparked a fierce national debate unexpectedly quit the Bundesbank board on Thursday evening, sparing Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Christian Wulff and Bundesbank President Axel Weber a messy legal and political battle.

But Sarrazin, 65, made it clear that he will not go away and plans to use his new-found fame to press forward with the issues tackled in his best-selling book: that Muslims are undermining German society and threatening to change its character and culture with their higher birth rate. Whether Germans like his views or not, there is no denying that Sarrazin has struck a chord.

"It seemed to me to be too risky...to try to push forward against the entire political establishment and 70 percent of the media," Sarrazin told hundreds of people at a book reading in Potsdam near Berlin. "That would have been arrogant and wouldn't have worked. That's why I'm making this strategic retreat now and will tackle the issues that are important to me."

German central banker in row over Muslims and Jews resigns

sarrazin quits (Photo: Protestsers call Sarrazin a racist before his public reading in Potsdam, September 9, 2010/Fabrizio Bensch)

A German central bank board member who caused outrage with remarks about Muslim immigrants and Jews resigned on Thursday after coming under pressure from political leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Bundesbank said Thilo Sarrazin, 65, who accused Turks and Arabs of exploiting the welfare state, refusing to integrate and lowering the average intelligence, would leave his post at the end of the month.

Sarrazin confirmed he had stepped down during a book reading in Potsdam near Berlin. “I found it too risky in the current atmosphere … to stand up to the entire political and media establishment. That would be presumptuous and would not have worked,” he said. “So, a strategic retreat and now (I will) work on the topics that are important to me.”

He had already been relieved of some of his central bank responsibilities over remarks he made last year about immigrants but the strict independence of the central bank made it difficult to have him removed.

German Chancellor Merkel honours Mohammad cartoonist at press award

merkelChancellor Angela Merkel paid tribute to freedom of speech on Wednesday at a ceremony for a Dane whose cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad provoked Muslim protests that led to 50 deaths five years ago.

Merkel, who grew up in Communist East Germany, recalled her joy over the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. “Freedom for me personally is the happiest experience of my life,” Merkel, 56, said at the conference on press freedom in Potsdam near Berlin. (Photo: Kurt Westergaard (L) congratulated by Angela Merkel (R) in Potsdam, September 8, 2010/Odd Andersen)

“Even 21 years after the Berlin Wall fell the force of freedom stirs me more than anything else,” she said.  She called press freedom a “precious commodity”.

German commentaries on Bundesbank’s Sarrazin after Jewish, Muslim remarks

bundesbank 1 (Photo: German Bundesbank President Axel Weber at news conference after the bank decided to dismiss board member Thilo Sarrazin, 2 September 2010/Alex Domanski)

Germany’s Bundesbank has voted to dismiss board member Thilo Sarrazin, whose remarks about Muslim immigrants and Jews have divided the country. Following are extracts from Friday’s German newspapers on the central bank’s decision, which must still be approved by the German President Christian Wulff.

BILD (Conservative mass circulation)

“President Christian Wulff is in a horrible jam. If he signs the order to fire Sarrazin, he’ll be viewed by millions of Germans as just another one of those jaundiced political leaders … but if he doesn’t sign it, he’ll have the chancellor and the entire political establishment against him.

“But if Wulff decides to read the book himself, he’ll see that it’s based on a lot of well-documented truths about immigrants, education and Germany’s social state. And unfortunately an appalling, vulgar Darwinism that reduces every person to a hostage of their genetic makeup.

Q+A – Why Sarrazin comments on Jews, Muslims cause outcry in Germany

sarrazin (Photo: Thilo Sarrazin at presentation of his book in Berlin, August 30, 2010/Fabrizio Bensch)

German central banker Thilo Sarrazin has divided public opinion with remarks about Muslim immigrants and comments about the genetic make-up of Jews, prompting calls for him to step down.

Leading politicians have called for the Bundesbank to dismiss the 65-year-old, who has dominated headlines in the public furore surrounding the launch of his book, “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany does away with itself).

The Bundesbank has met to discuss Sarrazin’s fate this week, but has yet to announce a formal decision.

German Jews want central banker sacked for comments on Jews and Muslims

sarrazin (Photo: Thilo Sarrazin at the presentation of his book in Berlin, August 30, 2010/Fabrizio Bensch)

Germany’s Jewish community has urged the central bank  to sack a board member who polarised the nation by making disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants and asserting that Jews have a particular genetic makeup.

Dieter Graumann, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said on Tuesday that Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin was out of line, even as polls showed many Germans support his views.

Sarrazin, 65, has published a book — Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany does away with itself) — in which he argues Muslim immigrants are undermining German society, refusing to integrate and sponging off the state, according to excerpts in the media.