A senior member of Germany’s new coalition cabinet says “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany.”
As the Associated Press reports, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild newspaper Friday that although he doesn’t think Islam is a religion that is part of the German fabric, “the Muslims who live with us are, of course, part of Germany.”
Seehofer, who controls the German police and security network, says he is telling Muslims in the country, “Live with us, not parallel to or against us.”
The statement is not one that German Chancellor Angela Merkel can accept. Seehofer is a member of Germany’s Christian Social Union that that has a limited regional influence in Bavaria and is considered more hard-line of matters of immigration and multiculturalism. It is nonetheless a vital member of the coalition government now in power in Germany that has retained Merkel at its head.
Although Merkel agrees that Germany is primarily a country of Protestants and Catholics, she noted that “now there are four million Muslims living in Germany” with a population of about 82 million.
“They can live their religion here too,” she told AP. “These Muslims belong to Germany and in the same way their religion belongs to Germany, that is to say Islam,” stipulating that German Muslims would still have to follow German law.
Ever since a former German president assured Muslims in 2010 that “Islam is a part of Germany,” the phrase has galvanized those who say the government allows too many Muslim refugees into the country who do not assimilate with other Germans.