A ‘people’s Islam’ (Volksislam) as an enrichment: breaking linguistic taboos in the German political debate

05 March 2016

In 2006 and 2007, Wolfgang Schäuble (at the time Minister of the Interior) and then-German President Christian Wulff both asserted that ‘Islam is part of Germany’. These statements led to acrimonious public debates about German national identity and about whether the fact that Muslims lived in Germany also meant that Islam was part of the country in a deeper sense. This controversy was periodically rekindled, notably by Angela Merkel’s occasionally voiced agreement with the idea that Islam was indeed part of Germany.

In some sense, it appears that the growing number of predominantly Muslim refugees arriving in the country since summer 2015 has moved this old debate to a new stage – not primarily because the number of Muslims in Germany is now greater, but mainly because all of a sudden existing Muslim communities now appear as settled and integrated ‘Germans’. As Euro-Islam reported, these older communities also share with their ethnically German compatriots many of the anxieties vis-à-vis current immigration.

Consequently, the Green Party Prime Minister of the south-western state Baden-Württemberg has now asserted in a public speech that a ‘people’s Islam’ (Volksislam) constituted an enrichment for the country that was to be welcomed. Whilst offering little by way of specifics on the nature of such a Volksislam, he proceeded to reassert that “Islam is part of Germany and of Baden-Württemberg, or to be more precise: an Islam that is inculturated in our constitutional order”.

A leading politician claiming that Islam was a positive enrichment to German society would have been hard to envision only a few years ago. Yet this stance fits with Kretschmann’s overall positioning on migration issues. In recent weeks and months, Kretschmann, who is on the centrist wing of his Green Party, has emerged as one of the most vocal defenders of Chancellor Merkel’s line in the ongoing migration crisis. Ahead of crucial state elections in Baden-Württemberg on March 13, the state’s Green Party is thus more aligned with Merkel’s policy than the regional branch of her own Christian Democratic Party (CDU), which has distanced itself from the Chancellor and called for a dramatic reduction in numbers of new arrivals.





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