Finance minister says Islam is part of Germany

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Tuesday warned Germany must not discriminate against its Muslim population, saying that Islam was a part of its society. His comments contrast starkly with those of the country’s new conservative interior minister.

“We have every interest in saying that Islam is a part of our country and in inviting Muslims to value what we have achieved in the Western World,” the Christian Democrat told the latest edition of political magazine Cicero. Religion, faith, democracy and universal human rights are all compatible, he added.

Still, immigrants must strive to integrate in Germany, said Schäuble, who initiated the government’s Islam conference in 2006 while he was interior minister in attempt to promote a healthier dialogue with the approximately four million Muslims living in the country.

In early March Germany’s new interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, made the controversial statement that Islam did not “belong” in Germany because it lacked a historical foundation. The conservative Bavarian plans to meet with the Islam conference plenum next Tuesday.

Friedrich’s comments mirrored similar statements he made last autumn amid a rancorous debate over whether Muslim immigrants are capable of integrating into German society.

The Local, 22 March 2011

See also Islam in Europe which takes a more sceptical view of Schäuble’s statement.