German regions with large Muslim populations should consider giving people the day off to observe Muslim holidays, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière suggested Thursday.
Catholic holidays such as All Saints Day are only observed in Catholic-dominated areas in Germany. With hundreds of thousands of Muslims moving to the country in recent years, de Maizière believes certain Muslim holidays could receive the same treatment in parts of the country.
“I’m prepared to talk about whether we would also introduce Muslim public holidays,” de Maiziere said during a speech in Lower Saxony. “Why shouldn’t we think about a Muslim public holiday in parts of the country where many Muslim live?”
De Maiziere, who represents Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), added that public holidays influenced by Christianity should remain the norm across the country.
The comments were met with strong reactions from de Maiziere’s party colleagues.
“Public holidays have a long tradition in Germany, I don’t see any need for a change to the current system,” regional CDU leader Bernd Althusmann said, according to The Local. “I don’t think a discussion about religious holidays during election campaigning is appropriate.”
Beatrix von Storch, the deputy leader of populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD), tweeted her condemnation over de Maiziere’s suggestion.
“The CDU wants Muslim holidays – that is the difference to the AfD. We say NO NO NO to that!” de Maiziere said.
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