Germany to expand consultations with Muslim community
The newly expanded German Interior Ministry plans to expand its consultations with the Muslim community as part of the annual Islamic Conference format.
"We have to be much stronger than before in placing at the centre of our Islamic Conference the diversity of our not-yet-organised fellow Muslim citizens in Germany," the secretary of state at the ministry who is responsible for homeland matters, Markus Kerber, told the Bild tabloid last Friday.
The German Islamic Conference is intended to further the integration of Muslims in Germany and improve exchanges between the state and Muslims.
In 2006, then interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble set up the consultation forum between government and the Muslim community in an annual round-table format. Kerber pointed out ahead of the conference that there is German Catholicism, German Protestantism and German Judaism.
"And if there is to be an Islam that is a part of Germany, then German Muslims have to define it as 'German Islam,' one based on our constitution," the secretary of state said.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer caused a stir shortly after he took office when he told the same newspaper, Germany's most popular, that Islam was not part of Germany - that it did not belong to Germany, in contradiction of a much repeated phrase by Chancellor Angela Merkel - but that Muslims who lived in Germany did belong there.
He said accepting Muslims did not mean that Germans "out of a false sense of consideration" should abandon their national traditions and customs, but he also pledged he would expand dialogue with Muslims through Schaeuble's Islamic Conference. (dpa)