De Maizière suggests Muslim holidays 

De Maizière suggests Muslim holidays 

Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s home affairs minister, has proposed that regions with large Muslim populations could get public holidays during Islamic festivals.

“I’m prepared to talk about whether we would also introduce Muslim public holidays,” de Maizière suggested, adding that Catholic holidays, such as All Saints day, which are only marked in Catholic-dominated areas.

“Why shouldn’t we think about a Muslim public holiday in parts of the country where many Muslim live?” the interior minister asked.

Germany has nine national public holidays while Bavaria has 13 days off as it also marks several Catholic holidays.

De Maizière was at a rally ahead of a state election in Lower Saxony, where his centre-right Christian Democrat Union (CDU) is evenly placed with the Social Democrats.

The CDU leader in Lower Saxony, Bernd Althusmann, appeared keen to disassociate himself from de Maizière’s suggestion.

“Public holidays have a long tradition in Germany, I don’t see any need for a change to the current system,” he said. “I don’t think a discussion about religious holidays during election campaigning is appropriate.”

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) also jumped on the comments as deputy leader Beatrix von Storch tweeted: “The CDU wants Muslim holidays – that is the difference to the AfD. We say NO NO NO to that!”

Germany has, meanwhile, warned Donald Trump against withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

“We believe this agreement is an important instrument to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

“If … an important country like the United States comes to a different conclusion, as appears to be the case, we will work even harder with other partners to maintain this cohesion,” the Berlin spokesman said.

Germany’s outgoing foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, also said that any US withdrawal would divide Washington from Europe.

“It’s imperative that Europe sticks together on this issue,” Gabriel told the RND newspaper group. “We also have to tell the Americans that their behaviour on the Iran issue will drive us Europeans into a common position with Russia and China against the USA.”

The United Nations nuclear watchdog has repeatedly certified that Iran has been abiding by the accord. But Trump accuses Iran of violating “the spirit” of the agreement by backing Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and by test firing its new non-nuclear ballistic missiles.

Gabriel is expected to resign as a minister after his Social Democratic Party announced that it would go into opposition after failing to make inroads at last month’s federal election.

Green party leader Cem Özdemir leader is tipped to succeed him.

Germany’s migrant crisis continues to dominate politics. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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