How German cops learned to ignore political correctness to get tough on refugee crime

Another take on profiling or targeting those deemed at greater risk of crime:

Those who have branded Europe, and Germany in particular, too weak and politically correct to stop a purported wave of crime brought on by the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers, should pay attention to the news. German police haven’t taken long to get their act together, and immigrant crime is down sharply. Their methods, which include a sort of racial– or at least behavioural –profiling may be controversial, but they are proving effective.

On New Year’s Eve, 2016, more than 500 women were sexually assaulted, and 22 raped, in the vicinity of the central station in Cologne by crowds of young men, many of them of North African extraction. Police were outnumbered and humiliated. A few days later, the city’s police chief was fired. Mayor Henriette Reker was ridiculed for advising women to stick to a “code of conduct” that included keeping at “arm’s length” from strangers. It made Germany look enfeebled and confused, and the many critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open the country’s borders to asylum seekers had a field day.

On Dec. 31, 2016, the central station neighborhood in Cologne was flooded by 1,700 police. They were checking documents and pushing young men, more than a hundred at the last count, into vans. While this was going on, a tweet appeared on the Cologne police force’s account: “At Central Station, several hundred Nafris are being checked.” Nafris is shorthand for North Africans, and it set off waves of predictable criticism from left-wing politicians who called the term “dehumanizing” and accused Cologne police of racial profiling. The police chief, Juergen Mathies, apologized for “Nafris” — it was only a “working term” police used, he said — but not for his officers’ actions. After all, only a handful of assaults, and no rapes, were reported.

“From the experience of last New Year’s Eve and from experience gained in raids in general, a clear impression has emerged here about which persons to check,” he said. “There were no gray-haired older men or blonde, young women there.”

Though the German Interior Ministry also winced at the “Nafris” tweet, Mathies will not be fired. His pre-emptive action has been lauded by federal and local officials including Mayor Reker, that softie from a year ago. Lip service has been paid to politically correct language, but everyone knows what the police chief had to deal with.

German police didn’t catch the perpetrator of the pre-Christmas terror attack in Berlin — an Italian patrolman ended up shooting him — but the investigation that led to a Europe-wide manhunt for Anis Amri was quick and precise. Just before New Year’s, police arrested a Syrian who had apparently planned another terror attack. Germany’s security apparatus is clearly on high alert, and it’s been increasingly well-funded. In 2016, the Ministry of the Interior received a 1.5 billion euro ($1.56 billion) budget increase compared with the previous year, and the federal police were allowed to hire 3,000 additional officers. In 2017, the ministry’s budget is set to rise by another 500 million euros to 8.3 billion euros.

High immigration — in the 11 months through November, 723,027 asylum applications were filed in Germany, compared with 476,649 in all of 2015 — is driving the budget increases. That’s based on some hard facts. In 2015, 6.5 percent of all crimes in Germany were committed by immigrants, compared with 3.6 percent in 2014. In 2016, the proportion is likely to be higher — in the first nine months, immigrants committed 214,600 crimes, more than the 206,201 registered in all of 2015, and the general crime rate in Germany has been steady in recent years. Immigrants from North Africa are the least law-abiding group: They make up 2 percent of Germany’s immigrant population, but in the nine months of 2016, they accounted for 22 percent of immigrant crime.

In the third quarter of 2016, however, crime by immigrants dropped 23 percent compared with the first three months of the year. One reason could be that police are taking account of the numbers and the trends they reflect, and they are not being too sentimental or too careful of being branded racist.

Source: How German cops learned to ignore political correctness to get tough on refugee crime | National Post

Why Islam Gets Second-Class Status in Germany – The New York Times

Interesting commentary by Alexander Gorlach:

Religion in Germany is not a private affair. Government at all levels recognizes religious communities as public institutions, and encourages participation in them — Germans who register with the state as Roman Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a “religion tax,” which the government then sends to their respective institution. Religious groups are also allowed to give faith-based instruction in public schools: It’s not uncommon for a small-town pastor, priest or lay person to have a spot on the local high school faculty.

To enjoy this privileged status, religious communities must have a defined set of beliefs, their members must be recorded, and they must have historical and social significance. The Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religious communities are organized as public institutions; in the state of Berlin, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormon Church are as well.

It might seem as if Islam, with 4.3 million adherents in Germany, would have qualified easily. But so far, the German government has resisted including it.

The reason is both simple and complex: Muslim communities are separated along ethnic lines as well as along denominational lines among Sunnis, Shiites and Alawites. Often there is little unity among these groups, hence they fail the most important state criterion: a unified religious body with shared goals and doctrines.

These requirements for a religion to get a privileged status in Germany highlight the anachronistic state of the secular federal republic in its approach to faith. The idea that the state can cooperate with religious groups in the same way it cooperates with, say, labor unions presumes a certain unity and hierarchy on the part of those groups. But Islam doesn’t work that way. It simply doesn’t fit within criteria written for the structured Christian churches that have shaped Europe, with bishops and baptismal registers.

For quite some time, there have been demands that the law be renamed to the Religionsrecht (State and Religion Law), and for it to include a wider diversity of religions. Though nothing much has changed on the national level, there has been progress in the states, where most of the country’s religious laws are promulgated. Bavaria, a conservative Catholic state that polls very high in measurements of xenophobia and anti-refugee sentiment, nevertheless has been running an Islamic-education pilot program in schools; it is also home to Germany’s oldest mosques. Perhaps the Bavarians, precisely because they protect their own religious and cultural traditions so ferociously, are also the most willing to recognize and support the traditions of others.

But it’s not only in Bavaria that reform is moving forward. In the Protestant-dominated north, Christian Wulff, a premier of Lower Saxony, set up training courses for future imams and Islamic religious teachers at the universities of Münster and Osnabrück. Later, when he was president of Germany, Mr. Wulff said, “Islam belongs to Germany.”

Though Mr. Wulff served just two years as president before resigning in 2012 over allegations of corruption (since dropped), his actions on behalf of Islam — and that quotation in particular — set off a debate that continues across the country. Critics of Islamic religious education in the schools, including many Muslims themselves, say that there is no group in the country that can speak for all Muslims. And indeed, it is estimated that the Central Council of Muslims and the Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany, the two groups that have the best claims to speak for Islam in Germany, represent no more than 20 percent of German Muslims.

Germany is a secular country, but the German legal framework approves of institutionalized religions in a biased way. The religions must organize themselves according to state standards, and those standards are tailored toward the structures of the Christian religion.

The result is a delegitimization of the state’s relationship to religious groups in the eyes of many non-Christians, particularly Muslims — a dangerous prospect at a time when rapid integration is essential to maintain social peace. In the context of a growing Muslim community and a rising number of citizens affiliated with no religion at all, Germany may not be able to maintain an order that arose many generations ago.

Reports: Gulf States supporting ultraconservative Islam branch in Germany | DW.COM

While religious fundamentalism does not necessarily equate to terrorism and extremism, it is not conducive to integration:

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have increasingly been providing support to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, German media said on Monday citing Germany’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies.

Religious organizations from those three countries have been sending preachers to Germany as well as financing the construction of mosques and schools, the German “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper and public service broadcasters NDR and WDR reported. The intelligence reports were conducted on the behalf of the German government.

By upping their support of Salafist missionary activities, the religious groups intend to spread the ultraconservative version of Islam in Germany, the intelligence reports said.

There are currently 9,200 people involved in the Salafist scene in Germany, but the government has concerns that the increased missionary work could swell their ranks. Berlin is also concerned that the groups could play a role in radicalizing Sunni refugees.

Possible government ties

The German government has repeatedly called on the Saudi government to stop supporting radical Islamists in Germany. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has said its religious organizations are a “stronghold” against the so-called “Islamic State.”

Although the Riyadh insists that the religious organizations are independent, Germany’s intelligence agencies concluded that the groups “are closely linked with state posts in their countries of origin.”

The intelligence agencies did note, however, that there is a lack of evidence to suggest that the religious groups support “violent Salafist structures and networks.”

Influence in schools and real estate

The intelligence reports also specifically named three religious organizations active in Germany that are believed to be supported by the state: the “Shaykh Eid Charity Foundation” from Qatar, the “Muslim World League” from Saudi Arabia and the “Revival of Islamic Heritage Society” (RIHS) from Kuwait.

Source: Reports: Gulf States supporting ultraconservative Islam branch in Germany | News | DW.COM | 13.12.2016

Angela Merkel faces party row over calls to scrap dual citizenship for children of immigrants 

Tough balancing act in overall European political context:

Angela Merkel was plunged into a new row over immigration on Wednesday when delegates at her party conference voted to end dual citizenship for the children of immigrants.

The German chancellor quickly disowned the decision by her Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), as her coalition partners said they would block it from becoming government policy.

The dispute, a day after Mrs Merkel was re-elected party leader and given an 11-minute standing ovation, threatened to mar the start of her campaign to win a historic fourth term as chancellor.

“There will be no change in the law in this parliament,” she said after the vote, in a clear rebuke to delegates. “I do not believe we should campaign on dual citizenship in the elections as we did in the past.”

In her speech to the conference on Tuesday, Mrs Merkel made a clear play for the party base who had been alienated by her “open-door” refugee policy, vowing never to repeat it and calling for a burka ban.

But the row over dual citizenship was a sign she may struggle to contain the demand for an anti-immigrant line on the party’s emboldened Right wing.

Dual citizenship is an incendiary issue in Germany, where it was not allowed until recent years, and even now is only available to citizens of other EU countries and the children of immigrants.

By a narrow majority of just over 51 per cent, CDU delegates voted to scrap laws introduced in 2014 under which the children of immigrants born in Germany are allowed to retain dual citizens as adults.

Source: Angela Merkel faces party row over calls to scrap dual citizenship for children of immigrants 

Bowing to public pressure, Merkel calls for partial burka ban in Germany

Similar approach to Quebec’s law 62 focussing on the public sector. Hard to disagree with the sentiment that parallel societies are generally undesirable, whatever the religion, ethnicity or ideology from an integration and social cohesion/inclusion perspective. However, one can question whether a ban is the appropriate response, or only requiring the face to be revealed for identity authentication (e.g., identity cards, airport security):

For months, as the Western political establishment shook around her, German Chancellor Angela Merkel remained a stolid and increasingly lonely champion of liberal values. But on Tuesday, she joined those chipping at the idea of “live and let live” liberalism, embracing a populist call for a partial ban on the head-to-toe burka.

The proposed ban comes less than three weeks after Ms. Merkel announced she would seek a fourth term as Chancellor in parliamentary elections expected next September. It also comes days after Italian voters forced the resignation of their prime minister, and in the wake of both Donald Trump’s shocking run to the White House, and Britain’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union.

Speaking Tuesday to a conference of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union – which faces a threat on its right flank from the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (also known by its German acronym, AfD) – Ms. Merkel took aim at “parallel societies” that she said were forming in Germany. Borrowing from the rhetoric of the AfD and other populist parties on the rise around the continent, she said the full-face veil “should be banned wherever it is legally possible.”

“We do not want any parallel societies, and where they exist we have to tackle them,” she said to loud applause from party delegates gathered in the city of Essen. She specifically named sharia, an Islamic legal code based on a strict interpretation of the Koran. “Our laws have priority over honour codes, tribal and family rules, and over sharia. That has to be expressed very clearly.”

Ms. Merkel – who was re-elected as the CDU leader on Tuesday with just under 90-per-cent support – said the full-face veil inhibited “inter-human communication” and “was not appropriate” in Germany.

The remarks were a move away from the role many had hoped to see Ms. Merkel assume following Mr. Trump’s election win.

On a recent trip to Berlin, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the German Chancellor as his “closest international partner,” leading to talk Ms. Merkel would – by default – become the voice and de facto leader of Western liberals.

The burka-ban proposal is a reminder that Ms. Merkel has always been a pragmatist first.

In reality, only a small minority of the estimated five million Muslims living in Germany wear the full burka. (A 2008 government-funded study found 28 per cent of German Muslims wore some kind of head covering; that figure includes those who wear the hijab, the much more common headscarf that covers the hair but not the face).

The proposed ban would likely only apply to schools, courts and other government buildings, as any wider restriction would seem to violate the country’s constitution.

The true aim of Ms. Merkel’s move against the burka is to soothe public anger over her decision last year to welcome into Germany hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries. The country has struggled – both culturally and bureaucratically – to process the new arrivals.

Source: Bowing to public pressure, Merkel calls for partial burka ban in Germany – The Globe and Mail

Facebook Runs Up Against German Hate Speech Laws – The New York Times

About time – social media companies also need to be accountable (as do users):

In Germany, more than almost anywhere else in the West, lawmakers, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, are demanding that Facebook go further to police what is said on the social network — a platform that now has 1.8 billion users worldwide. The country’s lawmakers also want other American tech giants to meet similar standards.

The often-heated dispute has raised concerns over maintaining freedom of speech while protecting vulnerable minorities in a country where the legacy of World War II and decades under Communism still resonate.

It is occurring amid mounting criticism of Facebook in the United States after fake news reports were shared widely on the site before the presidential election. Facebook also has been accused of allowing similar false reports to spread during elections elsewhere.

Mr. Zuckerberg has denied that such reports swayed American voters. But lawmakers in the United States, Germany and beyond are pressing Facebook to clamp down on hate speech, fake news and other misinformation shared online, or face new laws, fines or other legal actions.

“Facebook has a certain responsibility to uphold the laws,” said Heiko Maas, the German justice minister. In October, Mr. Maas suggested the company could be held criminally liable for users’ illegal hate speech postings if it does not swiftly remove them.

Facebook rejects claims that it has not responded to the rise in hate speech in Germany and elsewhere, saying it continually updates its community standards to weed out inappropriate posts and comments.

“We’ve done more than any other service at trying to get on top of hate speech on our platform,” Mr. Allen said.

Tussles with German lawmakers are nothing new for Facebook.

It has routinely run afoul of the country’s strict privacy rules. In September, a local regulator blocked WhatsApp, the internet messaging service owned by Facebook, from sharing data from users in Germany with its parent company. The country’s officials also have questioned whether Facebook’s control of users’ digital information could breach antitrust rules, accusations the company denies.

Facebook’s problems with hate speech posts in Germany began in summer 2015 as more than one million refugees began to enter the country.

Their arrival, according to company executives and lawmakers, incited an online backlash from Germans opposed to the swell of people from Syria, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries. The number of hateful posts on Facebook increased sharply.

As such content spread quickly online, senior German politicians appealed directly to Facebook to comply with the country’s laws. Even Ms. Merkel confronted Mr. Zuckerberg in New York in September 2015 about the issue.

In response, Facebook updated its global community standards, which also apply in the United States, to give greater protection to minority groups, primarily to calm German concerns.

Facebook also agreed to work with the government, local charities and other companies to fight online hate speech, and recently started a billboard and television campaign in Germany to answer local fears over how it deals with hate speech and privacy.

Facebook hired a tech company based in Berlin to monitor and delete illegal content, including hate speech, from Germany and elsewhere, working with Facebook’s monitoring staff in Dublin.

“They have gotten better and quicker at handling hate speech,” said Martin Drechsler, managing director of FSM, a nonprofit group that has worked with Facebook on the issue.

Despite these steps, German officials are demanding further action.

Ms. Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term in general elections next year, warned lawmakers last week that hate speech and fake news sites were influencing public opinion, raising the possibility of new regulations.

And Mr. Maas, the justice minister, has repeatedly warned that he will propose legislation if Facebook cannot remove at least 70 percent of online hate speech within 24 hours by early next year. It now removes less than 50 percent, according to a study published in September by a group that monitors hate speech, a proportion that is still significantly higher than those for Twitter and YouTube, the report found.

For Chan-Jo Jun, a lawyer in Würzburg, an hour’s drive from Frankfurt, new laws governing Facebook cannot come soon enough.

Mr. Jun recently filed a complaint with Munich authorities, seeking prosecution of Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior Facebook executives on charges they failed to sufficiently tackle the widespread wave of hate speech in Germany. The company denies the accusations.

While his complaint may be dismissed, Mr. Jun says the roughly 450 hate speech cases that he has collected, more than half of them aimed at refugees, show that Facebook is not complying with German law. Despite its global size, he insists, the company cannot skirt its local responsibilities.

“I know Facebook wants to be seen as a global giant,” Mr. Jun said. “But there’s no way around it. They have to comply with German law.”

German MPs in heated debate over fast-track citizenship for Britons – The Guardian

Interesting debate:

The German Green party has called on the government of Angela Merkel to fast-track the applications of Britons wishing to become German citizens in the light of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Volker Beck, a leading member of the party, told the Bundestag that Germany should “send a signal that Britons belong to Europe and to Germany” by allowing the “swift and straightforward naturalisation” of British citizens.

The opposition Greens tabled the resolution having already written to the government over the summer requesting a reform of the citizenship law because it said that young Britons in particular who were living and working in Germany “need a clear perspective that they can stay” in the event of Britain leaving the EU.

A heated debate in the German parliament on Friday revealed the extent to which the Brexit vote and the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s future relationship with the European Union continues to vex and anger German politicians across the spectrum.

Beck said that 5,000 Britons had received German citizenship last year and there were many others who wished to apply among the more than 100,000 other UK citizens living in the country. But many were not eligible, he said, because they had not lived in the country for the eight years the current law recommended or were not earning the level of income required to prove they could support themselves.

Beck called on the German government to “change its spots” and create a “modern citizenship law” that would allow people to hold more than one citizenship. Currently, this is only possible in exceptional cases.

Once Britain leaves the EU, Britons would be unable to become German citizens without first renouncing their British citizenship, hence the Greens’ attempts to speed up the process that would allow Britons to become German and remain British.

But the proposal was met with stiff resistance by politicians from chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

Stephan Mayer of the Christian Social Union called Beck’s proposal “treasonous” and accused him of “pushing a policy of the forced Germanisation of Britons in Germany”.

He said that any discussion concerning Brexit was “premature and pointless, as long as the negotiations [regarding the conditions of exiting the EU] are still ongoing”.

“For the time being we need to view the issue with typical British dispassion,” he told parliament.

He said British citizens already “get all the rights they need here, apart from being able to vote”.

But Rüdiger Veit of the Social Democrats (SPD) hit back. “It’s not about a forced Germanisation of Britons; it’s to do with the fact they’re very welcome here and it would be a happy situation if as many of them who want to beome German citizens did,” he said.

Tim Ostermann, who is MP for Herford in North Rhine Westphalia, a base for the British forces in Germany until last year, said he had not received any complaints from British citizens who had chosen to stay in the area that they had had any difficulties in acquiring citizenship.

“I never heard from any ex-British soldiers that they had any problems,” he said, calling the Greens’ proposal “an overreaction”.

Source: German MPs in heated debate over fast-track citizenship for Britons | World news | The Guardian

Angela Merkel’s Loyalty Test for German Turks – The New York Times

Worth noting:

To generally question this large and diverse group’s “loyalty” to Germany, as Ms. Merkel did, is as unfair as it is counterproductive. In demanding loyalty from Turkish Germans to the German state, Ms. Merkel is playing along with Mr. Erdogan’s scheme to segregate Turks from the rest of Germany, of making them a Turkish exclave on German soil, deepening the mutual feeling of alienation.

But Ms. Merkel also speaks for a large number of Germans, if not the majority, a fact that is as instructive as it is depressing. Despite the occasional tensions and setbacks, despite the considerably lower-than-average level of education and prosperity among Germans of Turkish descent, the country had just started to portray their integration as a success story.

Even the marches this summer, full of older and largely poor Turkish Germans, were a reminder of what that first generation of immigrants achieved in creating in their offspring, a generation of doctors, journalists, businesspeople — of successful, integrated Germans. But it is harder and harder to see things that way.

The renewed feeling of mutual alienation also gives us a better idea of the minimal requirements for being German. While bias and distrust toward Turks in the past were often driven by criticisms of conservative practices of Islam (and, no less, by racism and Islamophobia), the excessive public support for Mr. Erdogan also repels the German left and liberals. To them, “loyalty” to the German state means loyalty to the German Constitution and its liberal, democratic values — “the decisive marker of German identity,” according to Herfried and Marina Münkler, the authors of “The New Germans.” The pro-Erdogan rallies looked like a thousandfold public rejection of that identity.

All of this is instructive, not just in how Germany relates to its established immigrant communities, but the million refugees who have recently entered the country and are now attempting to build a new life. It is a reminder that, even decades from now, the process will still be continuing, with setbacks and tensions. But it should also be a reason for optimism — that Germany can, and must, make it work.

Source: Angela Merkel’s Loyalty Test for German Turks – The New York Times

Conflicting loyalties? Germany debates dual citizenship 

Good report on some aspects of the debate:

Germany’s debate on dual citizenship seems to be at odds with its inclusive approach to refugees – and its economic success story. Turks, in particular, feel ostracized when German officials question their loyalty.

Dual citizenship

Earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she and her government expect a “high level of loyalty” to be displayed by Germany’s largest immigrant community: the Turkish diaspora. Her divisive remarks came after mass rallies were held in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following last month’s thwarted coup.

Recent security threats across the country have also prompted a re-evaluation of immigration strategy, putting the chancellor in the uncomfortable position of having to balance her welcoming approach toward refugees with the realities of Germany’s history of lacking long-term plans to integrate new residents.

Merkel questioned some Turks’ loyalty after tens of thousands rallied in support of Erdogan

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also made remarks that seemed to challenge the allegiance of dual nationals, saying that allowing people to hold multiple citizenships was not a desirable long-term goal for the government.

The chairman of Germany’s TGD Turkish community association, which primarily functions as a legal network, said he welcomed the chancellor’s initiative as a way to advance the loyalty discussion, but he also criticized the idea that a series of unconnected events could call into question the allegiance of millions of people who live in Germany.

“It can’t be that a debate on loyalty is sparked purely on the basis of ethnic Turks’ participating at a rally in Cologne,” Gökay Sofuoglu told DW, adding that “milestones of social integration and participation” were suddenly being questioned – including dual citizenship.

“We have played a major role in rebuilding this country,” Sofuoglu said, referring to post-World War II reconstruction. “It is sad that the accomplishments of that first generation haven’t been honored or even acknowledged but are rather repeatedly being questioned. All these discussions only go to prove this country’s ingratitude and its total failure at its immigration policy.”

‘Mistakes were made’

Though having multiple nationalities is regarded as worldly and debonair in many cultures, Germany’s attitude is more conflicted. The subject of dual citizenship can touch a nerve as Germany tries to nail down an identity in a multicultural age; the country has become the second most popular destination for immigration after the United States, according to UN figures.

De Maiziere said facilitating dual citizenship was not in the long-term interest of the government

“Germany now has 55 years of experience of dealing with migrants,” Sofuoglu said. “We all know what mistakes were made in the past. It would be beneficial if – rather than continuing to alienate migrants and questioning their loyalties – we helped open doors and create opportunities for these people arriving in Germany now.”

The response to terror threats is a factor in the dual nationality debate, as is the potential reintroduction of compulsory military conscription. German law automatically dictates the loss of citizenship in most instances if a national joins another nation’s military, yet the armed forces are currently considering allowing citizens of other EU states to join.

A two-tiered society

The TGD’s Sofuoglu argues that threatening to revoke dual citizenship and forcing people from ethnic minorities to choose creates “second-class German nationals” who have to live in constant fear of having their privileges taken away.

Sofuoglu, a dual national, said Germany’s restrictive policy amounts to ingratitude

“No one would come up with the idea of revoking the citizenship of a native German without a migrant background who acts in an undesirable way,” Sofuoglu said. “So why do other people who were also born and raised here have to abide by a different set of standards simply because they have their roots abroad? … Because some of them chose to partake in a rally in favor of the Turkish president?”

“If loyalty to the state is such a problem, what about those right extremists protesting against Merkel and insinuating that she should be executed for allowing refugees to come to Germany?” Sofuoglu said. “Is that what they call loyalty?”

Source: Conflicting loyalties? Germany debates dual citizenship | News | DW.COM | 24.08.2016

Germany: Who′s afraid of dual citizenship? | Opinion | DW.COM

While in my opinion the article focuses too much on identify aspects of dual citizenship while ignoring the practical aspects that require many to retain their old citizenship in order to be able to easily visit their country of origin, it gives a flavour of German debates:

The issue of dual citizenship is dividing opinion in Germany. The arguments against it are old fashioned to say the least: Citizens cannot “serve two masters,” and the conflict of allegiance for those who possess two passports is emphasized. Such arguments are designed to influence mood and create fear: Opponents of dual citizenship often talk of the threat of a “fifth column” for despots and autocrats, and call into question the democratic will and capacity of those with two passports. The message is clear: Danger is on the way!

But the argument is not aimed at Trump supporters among American-Germans, Le Pen supporters among French-Germans, Kaczynski fans among the 690,000 Polish-Germans, nor those among the 570,000 Russian-Germans that are sympathetic to Vladimir Putin. No, the problem is with those among the 530,000 Turkish-German dual citizens in Germany that support Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan is currently Germany’s favorite bogeyman, the one person that threatens European democracy and that we should all be afraid of. And we should also fear his fifth column, the Turkish-Germans living here and just waiting for Ankara to give them the signal to mobilize.

Enemies of democracy

 However: Doing away with dual citizenship will not solve any of the real or perceived problems that its opponents envision. Dual citizenship is anchored in current EU law. Thus, EU citizens cannot be deprived of it. Therefore Germans have to tolerate the Orban supporters among Hungarian-Germans as well as the nostalgic right-wing extremist Ustashe fans among Croatian-Germans.

Apparently, the real issue only has to do with the Turks. In that case it would serve us well to recall a few facts: According to the 2011 federal census, about 4.3 million people in Germany had citizenship in a second country in addition to being German passport holders. Of those, some 500,000 were Turks. In comparison: 1.5 million Turkish people were living in Germany without German passports, and 800,000 people of Turkish origin had only a German passport. So, on the whole, less than 20 percent of all Turks in Germany have dual citizenship. So where exactly does the threat to German democracy lie?

This most recent discussion on dual citizenship flared up at a pro-Erdogan demonstration two weekends ago in Cologne. Some 30,000 to 40,000 people demonstrated at the event – which figures out to about six or seven percent of all Turkish-German dual citizens, or 1.5 percent of all persons of Turkish descent living in Germany. Even if every single person at the event were an avowed enemy of democracy – it would still be no greater a number than all opinion polls and election results tend to register among ethnic Germans with no immigrant background.

Not a threat – an enrichment

The favorite argument of dual citizenship opponents is the equation: two passports = dual allegiance. That has little to do with reality. Multi-faceted identity is a matter of fact for millions of people with migrant backgrounds living in Germany. It is a matter of different languages, different cultures and different answers to the question: Where do I feel comfortable, where am I at home? Dual citizenship is a possible answer, and a clear sign of belonging to two different worlds. The belief that someone who is forced to forfeit a passport will also forfeit his or her loyalty is a fallacy. It would only lead to bitterness, hypocrisy and estrangement. For loyalty is like love: You can force someone to have sex, but you cannot force them to love you!

Of course democracy must have the possibility to defend itself against its enemies. But modern democracies can only survive and flourish as open societies. One expression of this openness is to allow citizens to live their identities as they feel them – even if that means they need two passports to do so.

Source: Opinion: Who′s afraid of dual citizenship? | Opinion | DW.COM | 09.08.2016