Europe

German Muslims Suffer Religious Discrimination: Minister

07/05/2006

By Ahmed Al-Matboli, IOL Correspondent

BERLIN, May 7, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – The Muslim minority in Germany is suffering from a growing religious discrimination with many Germans wrongly associating Islam with terrorism, a federal minister admitted on Sunday, May 7.

“Muslims are lately being confronted with mounting rejection which feeds from fear,” Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries told the weekly Welt am Sonntag.

She said many Germans were not able to properly distinguish between Islam and terrorism.

“As a consequence many Muslims are faced with discrimination because of their faith as some people link the Muslim faith automatically with Al-Qaeda and terrorism,” added Zypries.

The Interior Ministry is sponsoring a mobile exhibition touring the country to draw the line between Islam as a faith and the practices of some Muslims.

It aims to distinguish between Islam as a religion that preaches peace and tolerance and parties condoning violence in the name of Islam, said the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the sponsor.

The exhibition would visit universities, schools, parliaments, municipalities and cultural centers in the different states.

European officials said recently that the bloc is set to remove derogatory terminology about Islam like “Islamic terrorism” and “fundamentalists” in its new lexicon of public communication.

Uniform

The minister proposed the introduction of school uniforms to avoid sparking furor over Muslim students wearing hijab.

“All school pupils should wear the same school uniform,” she said.

The minister believes such uniforms would also help prevent religious and social discrimination in Germany.

The constitutional court, Germany’s highest tribunal, ruled in July 2003, against a decision by the Baden-Wuerttemberg state to forbid a Muslim teacher from wearing hijab in the classroom.

But it said Germany’s 16 regional states could issue new legislations to ban hijab if they believe it would influence children.

A number of states, including Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, still allow hijab at schools.

Others, including Baden-Wurttemberg, Saarland and Lower Saxony, ban teaching stuff in state schools from wearing symbols that express religious, political, or ideological affiliation, including hijab.

Penalizing

The German justice minister also called for enacting a law banning discrimination against minorities in the country.

Zypries asserted that recent statistics indicate a rise in crimes committed on racial grounds.

She noted that racist practices and discrimination were usually committed for religious considerations.

After months of debate, the German government agreed early in May on an anti-discrimination law.

The text, which has been approved in principle by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and by the Social Democrats in her ruling grand coalition, will be debated next week in the lower house of the parliament, the Bundestag, where the coalition has a comfortable majority.

One of the major aspects of the law would protect against discrimination in hiring based on sex, age, religion or disability.

Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

There are some 3.4 million Muslims in Germany, two thirds of whom are of Turkish origin.