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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Germany's President upsets his country's Muslim community

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Integration: Gauck geht auf Distanz zu Wulffs Islam-Rede - Aktuelle Nachrichten - Politik - Berliner Morgenpost - Berlin

President Joachim Gauck has distanced himself from the assessment of his predecessor, Christian Wulff, that Islam belonged to Germany.  This sentence, Gauck would not support, "but his intention, I suppose," Gauck said in an interview published on Thursday with the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit".

Wulff was telling citizens to be open to the reality. "And the reality is that many Muslims live in this country .... I would simply say that Muslims who live here belong to Germany." Wulff's remarks had triggered heated debates in Germany in 2010.

A set of formulations about membership are "always problematic, especially when it comes to such sensitive issues like religion," said Gauck, who is also a Protestant theologian. He could therefore understand even those who asked: "Where has Islam influenced Europe, has it experienced the Enlightenment, even a reformation ... I am very excited about the theological discourse within a European Islam."

Christian Wulff had said in his speech on the Day of German Unity 2010: Christianity and Judaism were unequivocally belong to Germany. "But Islam now also belongs to Germany."

The interview was conducted before the trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories by Gauck, which ended on Thursday . The President said that the position of Chancellor Angela Merkel, that the existence of Israel belongs to the German raison d'état, "comes from the hearts of my generation."

The idea was born not only from a political reason, "but from a deep contrition. It is a moral appeal to ourselves, with whom I am very concerned about whether we can realize the magnitude of this claim on ourselves into political action." Perhaps the next generation would call this "an excessive demand" Gauck said.

By 1990 he had never passed his lips that he was proud of his country, "never imagine!" But the trip to Israel, he will have in addition to awareness of the burden of German guilt that "Germany had discovered trust in itself. And as we continue to align with Europe, we remain at the side of Israel, when others deny them the right to exist," said Gauck, who lived until 1990 in the GDR.

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