Germany has welcomed Islam as part of its multi-cultural mosaic in a televised speech delivered Sunday by President Christian Wulff, marking twenty years of reunification after half a century of being divided following the Nazis' defeat by the Allied Forces in World War II.
Although Wulff’s position is primarily ceremonial, his words were nevertheless seen as pivotal in soothing increasingly troubled waters.
“Christianity doubtless belongs in Germany. Judaism belongs doubtless in Germany. That is our Judeo-Christian history,” he told an audience in the northern city of Bremen. “But by now, Islam also belongs in Germany.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged the growing presence of Muslim immigrants in the country, who currently number some four million. Merkel told her Conservative party members last month that new immigrants need to do more to integrate into German society, including learning the language and obeying "every single" law. The chancellor, whose popularity has plunged since her re-election a year ago, appeared to be reaching out to the more right-wing faction of her Christian Democrats (CDU) party, which has complained about her moving the group towards the political center in recent years.
Clearly faced with trying to walk a political tightrope, Merkel pointed out following racist remarks by the board member of a bank last summer that “mosques will be a somewhat larger part of our cityscape than before.” She added, however, that police should be able to enter Muslim neighborhoods without fear.
Thilo Sarrazin, a board member of the Bundesbank, the country’s central bank, was forced to resign after writing a best-selling book saying the nation’s Muslim immigrants were taking advantage of the welfare system, refusing to integrate and lowering Germany’s intelligence.