German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent statement that the “situation for the people in Kashmir is unsustainable and not good” has attracted partisan Indian media houses to bash Modi-led BJP Government.
Ironic that none of the so-called intellectuals dared to highlight the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Germany after the 1960s, the emerging threat that it poses in Merkel’s own backyard to White Christians, the polarisation of the right wing and the anti-human rights measures already in force.
Time for Indian intellectuals to draw Merkel’s attention to the quote that “Before you point your fingers, be sure your hands are clean” or Native American saying: Every time you point a finger in scorn—there are three fingers pointing right back at you.”
Most important that Merkel must be reminded is “Never point a finger where you never lent a hand.” In retrospect, this is not the time for pointing fingers by Angela Markel; rather, it is the time for offering a helping hand to friends in need, that is, Modi and India.
Did Merkel come to India to criticise the host actions in J&K (most undiplomatic) or to promote Germany’s business interests? Quite obviously, she came looking to exploit business opportunities in India—signed 17 Agreements.
“We need a fresh attempt at a European-Indian free trade agreement,” Merkel said at an event at the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in New Delhi.
Let me briefly review the state of communal harmony in Germany. Owing to labour migration in the 1960s and several waves of political and economic refugees since the 1970s, Islam has become a more visible religion in Germany.
According to recent published data, there are well over 4.7 million Muslims in Germany (over 5.7% of the population). According to the German Islam Conference in 2012, Muslims represented 7% of the population in Germany in 2012. Extrapolating the above said data, the Muslim population may be well over 12% today.
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Europe, primarily due to immigration. There are a large number of Muslim mosques and prayer halls in Germany alone.
According to German Federal Agency for Civic Education, the Salafi movement in Germany is centered in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main metropolitan area, North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin.
And the Muslim concentration in the cities includes: Berlin 9.5%; Cologne 12%; Frankfurt 12.6%; and Offenbach 14%. Sooner or later, like London with a Muslim Mayor, even some of the German Cities may have to accept a Muslim Mayor.
Ipso facto, Merkel’s attention must also be drawn to Germany’s grave concern on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism—the Hamburg cell, which included Mohamed Atta, who figured prominently in the planning and execution of the September 11, 2019 attacks.
Furthermore, various confrontations between Islamic religious law (Shar’iat) and the norms of German Grundgesetz and culture are the subject of intense debate. According to a 2012 poll, 72% of the Turks in Germany believe that Islam is the only true religion and 46% wish that one day more Muslims than Christian lived in Germany.
According to 2013 study by Social Science Research Center Berlin, two thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live, almost 60 percent of the Muslim respondents reject homosexuals; 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted; and an equally large group believes that the West is out to destroy Islam.
According to a 10-year survey by the University of Bielefeld, which dealt with different aspects of attitudes to Islam, “distrust” of Islam is widespread in Germany with only 19 percent of Germans believing that Islam is compatible with German culture. Yet another highlight is that there are nearly 30% atheists in Germany whom the Muslims believe that atheists are inferior human beings.
In 2016, the German security service estimated that about 24,000 Muslims were part of Islamists movements in Germany, of which 10,000 belonged to the Salafist scene.
In 2016, 90 mosques were monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution for their Islamist ideology. These were mostly Arabic-language “backyard mosques” where self-appointed Imams exhorted their followers to wage jihad.
In February 2017, the German Salafist mosque organisation Berliner Fussilet-Moscheeverein was banned by authorities. In March 2017, the German Muslim community organisation Deutschsprachige Islamkreis Hildesheim was also banned after investigators found that its members were preparing to travel to the conflict zone in Syria to fight for the Islamic State.
Turkish and Kurdish Islamist groups are also active in Germany and Turkish and Kurdish Islamists have co-operated in Germany as in the case of the Sauerland terror cell. Political scientist Guido Steinberg stated that many top leaders of Islamist organisations in Turkey fled to Germany in the 2000s, and that the Turkish (Kurdish) Hezbollah has also “left an imprint on Turkish Kurds in Germany.” Also many Kurds from Iraq (there are about 50,000 to 80,000 Iraqi Kurds in Germany) financially supported Kurdish-Islamist groups like Ansar al Islam.
Since the start of 2017 until April 2018, 80 Islamist extremists without German citizenship were deported to their home countries. In March 2018, there were 760 Islamists in Germany classified as dangerous by police authorities, of which more than half were on German territory and 153 of the latter were in prison.
In July 2010, Germany outlawed the Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation e.V. (IHH Germany), saying it had used donations to support Hamas, which is considered by the European Union and Germany to be a terrorist organisation, while presenting their activities to donors as humanitarian help. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, “Donations to so-called social welfare groups belonging to Hamas, such as the millions given by IHH, actually support the terror organisation Hamas as a whole.” IHH was believed by the German authorities to have collected money in mosques and to have sent $8.3 million to organisations related to Hamas.
In sum, Angela Merkel’s has banned organisations, classifying nearly 760 Islamists as dangerous, deported Islamists and imprisoned fundamentalists—153 Islamists in prison? Surely, such a clamp down on Muslims in Germany is also “unsustainable” when viewed from human rights angle.
Furthermore, how can Madam Merkel justify the growth of “Christian Right Wing” polarisation? In the recently concluded elections, the growth of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is real due to polarisation on communal lines. Its election campaign was characterised by open hostility to the Muslim community—asserting that “Islam is not part of Germany”—and by socially conservative attitudes to women in German society. Its most prevalent election materials and slogans called on German women (always portrayed as white) to have more children. Statements by leading party figures also included calls for greater respect for World War II German veterans.
Viewed in the above emerging trends, it is time for Angela Merkel to introspect and appreciate the likely outcomes of Muslim appeasement in alien lands, instead of lending a hand to counter Islamist fundamentalism.
It is high time for Indian media and its panelists to express their views pragmatically and boldly to set right passing “ill conceived” remarks against the host country. Merkel be told that “situation for the White Christians in Germany is unsustainable and not good” in long term context. Merkel and Germany may learn a “Lesson from India’s History”. n