Berlin tries to bolster German identity 

Berlin tries to bolster German identity 

The German federal government has launched a 10-point plan to define the national culture. 

Home affairs minister Thomas de Maizière said Islamic veils that cover the face were contrary to “democratic coexistence”, adding: “We are an open society – we show our face.”

It was revealed after German legislators supported a partial burqa ban for women in the civil service, judiciary and military.

The moves are part of a larger national debate on identity and immigration ahead of national elections in September, amid a right-wing surge following the arrival of more than a million refugees since 2015.

De Maizière said that consensus on core German cultural values, or Leitkultur, would help integration and cohesion, saying that some standpoints were “non-negotiable”.

“This includes mutual respect and the rule of law over religion,” he said. “We remain part of the west, proud Europeans and enlightened patriots.”

He defined the term as a person who “loves his country and does not hate others”, saying the German flag and anthem were core parts of national identity.

The statement was headlined “Wir sind nicht Burka” (“We are not burqa”), prompting Green youth wing leaders Jamila Schäfer and Moritz Heuberger to reply “We are not lederhosen [pictured].”

They wrote that cultures should respect each other and that an open society was not based on “everyone being as ‘German’ as possible together”.

“As soon as your identity is based most strongly on which country you belong to, you can easily adopt an attitude of superiority,” Schäfer, 24, argued. “And that’s dangerous and anti-democratic — because it is excluding others.”

The interior minister said issues surrounding the Second World War “are all over now, especially for the younger generation”.

His 10-point plan included “social habits” like shaking hands that express national attitudes, education, sport, the arts, Bach, Goethe and festivals.

Politically motivated crime is growing in Germany, with left- and right-wing demonstrators repeatedly clashing and hundreds of refugee homes attacked, while far-right movements, like Pegida and Alternative for Deutschland, have gathered strength.

The minister claimed all religions were a “glue for society…in the Christian church, in the synagogue and in the mosque”.

“Our country is shaped by Christianity. We live in religious peace. And the basis for this is the absolute supremacy of the law over all religious rules in the state and society,” Maizière said.

 

Picture credit: Flickr  

 

 

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