New Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had told Bild newspaper “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany,” but added that “the Muslims who live with us are, of course, part of Germany.”
Seehofer, a former head of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), has always held a harder line on immigration than his coalition partners in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The CSU also faces state elections in October, in which the Alternative for Germany (AfD), an anti-immigrant party, will present a challenge.
Asked about Seehofer’s remarks, Merkel said on Friday that while Germany was shaped by its Judeo-Christian heritage, “there are 4 million Muslims living in Germany.”
“They can live their religion here, too,” the chancellor said. “These Muslims belong to Germany and in the same way their religion belongs to Germany, that is to say Islam.” She added that the form of Islam practiced must conform to the country’s constitution.
German Interior Minister: “Islam Does Not Belong to Germany”
“Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany is shaped by Christianity. This tradition includes work-free Sundays and church holidays and rituals such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas…. My message is that Muslims have to live with us, not next to or against us.” — Horst Seehofer, Germany’s new interior minister