Newly-appointed Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said that “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany.” The comments contradict previous remarks from his own chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Seehofer was sworn-in on Wednesday, following protracted negotiations to form a new German government, and made the remarks in an interview with Bild on Friday. Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria, also outlined a number of tough new measures to curtail immigration and make it easier for Germany to deport failed asylum seekers.
Seehofer said he would implement a “master plan for quicker deportations” and seek to classify more countries as ‘safe,’ therefore making it easier to deport people to their country of origin. “My message is: Muslims need to live with us, not next to us or against us,” the minister said. “Of course the Muslims living here do belong to Germany.”
An estimated 4.4 to 4.7 million Muslims live in Germany, many from a Turkish background. More than a million middle-eastern migrants have arrived in the country since 2015 after Chancellor Merkel adopted an open-door policy.
The recent surge in popularity for the right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been linked to German dissatisfaction with Merkel’s policy, coupled with fears of a large-scale terrorist incident following the Berlin Christmas market truck attack which killed 12 people in 2016.
Gains have been made by right-wing and anti-immigrant parties in a host of European countries over the last year, most notably in Austria, Denmark and France where National Front leader Marine Le Pen lost a close-fought presidential race to centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!