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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Muslim public holiday in Germany being considered by German Interior Minister

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When Thomas de Maizière chatted in Wolfenbüttel on Monday evening, he did not know that he was stirring  a heated debate. It belongs to the essence of the 63-year-old, sometimes to let his thoughts to hang, sometimes a little chat, without larger plan behind it. But because he is the Federal Minister of the Interior, even the smallest talk can become a big number.

At the invitation of the election campaigning CDU party colleagues De Maizière drove to Lower Saxony. On Sunday is Regional Elections and it could be quite close. In the venue called Komm, it was about refugee policy, about integration and the so-called "defining culture". As Minister of the Interior, he feels "responsible for the social context", he said, according to a report from the portal regionalwolfsburg.de, and said: "Now is the question, what is it, in the traditional sense of the word, the rubber band binding society, and what to do so that it does not tear? "

Thomas de Maizière now experiences how difficult this rubber band when it is already under tension. In the course of the evening, he also commented on German holidays and said, ""I'm ready to talk about whether we could introduce a Muslim holiday. Maybe one might like to do this. There are also regions where there is All Saints' Day, elsewhere not. Where there are many Catholics, there is the Feast of All Saints, where there are few, there is no All Saints. Where there are many Muslims; why cannot you think about a Muslim holiday?

De Maizière then became louder and emphasized: "But our holidays are a Christian one, and that should remain so. Whitsun, Easter, Christmas."

What remained of it in a country in which even the Greens are currently discussing the term "Heimat"? That the Interior Minister thinks about introducing Muslim holidays in Germany. (His general additional comment is less important.)  This leads to considerable excitement, especially in his party CDU and his Bavarian sister CSU.  They really wanted to close "the right flank", following the modest results at the German Parliamentary election three weeks ago. And this obviously excludes the inclusion of Muslim fasting or the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid) as a holiday in the German calendar.

"Our Christian heritage is not negotiable," said CSU regional group leader, Alexander Dobrindt of the Bild . "To introduce Islamic holidays in Germany is out of the question for us." Party colleagues, Joachim Herrmann, Manfred Weber and Stephan Mayer expressed similar opinions. The CSU hace not been so united for a long time. So as not to leave the AfD any more space, the party shortened De Maizier's statement to the maximum and poured ridicule on it. "De Maiziere for Muslim holiday!" states an AfD poster on the Internet and to this: "We propose February 30th !

De Maiziere also received criticism from his CDU . Lower Saxony's election campaigner Bernd Althusmann was not very pleased with the statement, he was likely to fear losing electoral votes of his conservative clientele. "Holidays have a long tradition in Germany, and I see no need to change these structures," said Regional Head. Interior expert, Wolfang Bosbach explained that Germany had a Christian-Jewish religious character, and not an Islamic one. The SPD chairman Martin Schulz has already stated: "I have noted above all the ways in which Mr De Maizière is immediately kicked by his own ranks."

De Maizière: Holidays marked by Christianity

Thomas de Maizière is obviously uncomfortable with the hustle and bustle of the game. It was not, after all, a fundamental consideration or political initiative, but rather was expressed in the small Wolfenbütteler Saal. On Saturday, the German Ministry of the Interior told the Süddeutsche Zeitung : "Minister De Maizière has made it clear that our holidays are shaped by Christianity and that this should remain so." Although he was ready to talk about individual Muslim holidays in certain regions, he said, "but in principle, he maintains that our holiday culture has precisely Christian and no other roots."

It also points out that the German constitution guarantees freedom of religious exercise. This also means that people can celebrate their religious festivals. The city states of Hamburg and Bremen have therefore concluded agreements with Muslim associations, according to which Muslim pupils can be exempted from high school on Islamic holidays and can take leave of their employees. In fact, other states would also proceed in this way.

But the impression remains that the Union is currently not prepared for a differentiated discussion about Muslim holidays in Germany. Especially not the CSU. The shock of the rise of the right-wing populists from the AfD has hit deeply, they would prefer for such topics not to be raised. Especially when they come from their own ranks.

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