Angela Merkel has again insisted Islam is part of German culture, speaking out to contradict Interior Minister Horst Seehofer after he stressed the nation’s Christian heritage.
“Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany has been shaped by Christianity,” the Christian Social Union (CSU) Bavarian leader told Bild on Friday, pointing to the church’s influence on everyday life and culture.
“These aspects include shops being closed on Sundays, church holidays and rituals such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas.”
“The Muslims who live with us obviously belong to Germany,” qualified Seehofer, adding that “this does not mean we give up our country-specific traditions and customs out of false consideration for others”.
After the minister’s pronouncement, Merkel moved quickly to assert that Islam “belongs to Germany”, a claim the Chancellor has made on several occasions since she opened Europe’s doors to seemingly limitless mass migration in 2015.
Merkel Admits ‘No-Go’ Zones Exist in Germany https://t.co/5Z4xKDb6u4
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Appearing at a press conference after talks with Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven on Friday, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader noted four million residents of the country follow Islam, telling reporters: “These Muslims are also part of Germany and with them their religion, Islam, is just as much a part of Germany.”
As a critic of mass migration Seehofer, who is presiding over an expanded homeland ministry, has clashed with the Chancellor on previous occasions.
He announced at the weekend a number of immigration measures the ministry intends to put in place including “a master plan for faster deportations and increased fight against the causes of flight in the countries of origin.”.
Speaking on ZDF, the new Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) backed Seehofer up over the controversy, telling the public broadcaster that while “Muslims who live and integrate here” can be said to ‘belong’ to Germany, “Islam is not part of the [nation’s] cultural history.”
Polls have consistently shown a majority of around 60 per cent of Germans reject the notion that Islam belongs to the country, and public discomfort towards the religion has increased significantly since the migrant crisis saw a massive rise in the number of Muslim newcomers.