Nearly two-thirds of Germans believe that Islam does not belong to Germany, according to a recent opinion poll.
Does Islam Belong to Germany?
Soeren Kern | Gatestone Institute | July 5, 2016
Nearly two-thirds of Germans believe that Islam does not belong to Germany, according to a recent opinion poll, which also found that only 22% of Germans consider Islam to be an integral part of German society.
In a similar poll conducted in January 2015, 37% of Germans said that Islam belongs to Germany, 15% more than now. The results indicate that German attitudes toward Islam are hardening after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow more than 1.1 million mostly Muslim migrants to enter Germany in 2015.
The poll has opened yet another chapter in the decade-long debate over the phrase, “Islam belongs to Germany.” The words were first uttered in September 2006 — at the time there were 3.5 million Muslims in Germany, compared to nearly six million today — by then Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Speaking ahead of the first-ever German-Islam Conference, the first institutionalized dialogue between representatives of the German government and of Muslims in Germany, Schäuble said: “Islam is a part of Germany and a part of Europe. Islam is a part of our present and a part of our future. Muslims are welcome in Germany.”
The phrase was repeated in October 2010 by Germany’s then president, Christian Wulff, during a keynote speech to mark the 20th anniversary of German reunification. Wulff proclaimed that “Islam belongs to Germany” because millions of Muslims now live there:
“Christianity doubtless belongs Germany. Judaism belongs unequivocally to Germany. This is our Judeo-Christian history. But now Islam also belongs to Germany (Der Islam gehört inzwischen auch zu Deutschland).”
Wulff then quoted the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who in his West-Eastern Diwan (West–östlicher Divan, 1819) wrote: “He who knows himself and others will understand: East and West are no longer separable.”
Since then, a debate has raged over the increasingly contentious question of Muslim immigration, integration and the role of Islam in German society. The University of Bonn launched a research project entitled, “How much Islam belongs to Germany?” The Konrad Adenauer Foundation published a paper: “Which Islam belongs to Germany?” According to the head of the Lutheran Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, only “Democratic Islam” belongs to Germany.
What follows is an abridged historical review of the phrase “Islam belongs to Germany.”