German government rejects conservatives’ call for Islam law – The Washington Post

Of note:

The German government says there’s no need for new legislation to regulate Islamic organizations in the country.

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union party have called for a ban on foreign funding of Islamic organizations, and for Muslims to get statutory rights to pastoral care from an imam in prisons and hospitals.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that such a law was “a non-issue” at the moment and noted that religious freedom is guaranteed by the German constitution.

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants in Germany in recent years has rekindled public debates about the country’s relationship with Islam.

A recent report by public broadcaster ARD found that the Islam preached in some mosques is more conservative than in many Muslim countries.

Dual citizenship in Europe: Which rules apply where?

Ongoing German dual citizenship debate, likely prompted by concerns of Turkish campaigning under Erdogan’s authoritarianism, along with a summary of the policies of other EU countries:

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrat Union (CDU) aims to tighten citizenship laws. At the CDU conference last December, party officials launched a debate on possible restrictions on dual citizenship. The subject of the dispute is what is known as the “obligation option,” which means that children of immigrants obtain both nationalities at birth, but must choose one when they reach the age of 23. In 2014, the coalition government agreed that children born and raised in Germany would be allowed to keep both nationalities as adults.

Infografik doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft Europa ENG

German news magazine “Der Spiegel” reports that the CDU plans to campaign against dual citizenship. “We must make far-reaching changes to the policy of the exceptions,” Cemile Giousouf, the chairman of the CDU’s integration network, told the magazine. A paper that will be integrated into the CDU’s election platform suggests that grandchildren of first-generation immigrants may only have German citizenship.

Merkel rejected the demands in December. According to “Spiegel” she is now ready to back a new regulation, probably as a consequence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s verbal attacks on German politics and the fact that many Turks living in Germany identify with the Turkish president.

Essen CDU-Bundesparteitag Rede Merkel (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld)‘I don’t think we are having an election over dual citizenship,’ said Merkel in December.

France

Most EU states, including France, now allow dual citizenship. French nationals have had the right to dual or multiple nationalities since 1973. In 2009, France stood against the first article of the European Council’s “Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality and on Military.” The aim of the agreement was to “to reduce as far as possible the number of cases of multiple nationalities, as between member states.”

In France, “jus soli,” meaning birthright citizenship, is practiced. Anyone who is born in France is granted French citizenship regardless of the parents’ nationality.

Sweden

For a long time, Sweden, like Germany, adhered to the “avoidance of dual citizenship” principle. A law adopted in 2001, however, allows Swedish nationals to apply for a different nationality without losing their Swedish passport, provided that the laws of the country permit this. In turn, immigrants in Sweden do not necessarily have to give up their foreign citizenship when they are naturalized.

The sociologist Thomas Faist sees Sweden as a potential role model for other countries. Two passports are seen “not as a problem, but rather as a contribution to integration,” Faist told the German media agency “Integration.” Other Scandinavian countries have similar regulations. In 2014 Denmark passed a law which allows dual citizenship. In Finland, a similar law had already gone into effect in 2003. In Norway, however, dual citizenship is permitted only in exceptional cases.

Schweden Integration von Migranten Schulunterricht (Getty Images/D. Ramos)Sweden has long been a country of immigration, but it has tightened its asylum law in recent years

Central and Eastern Europe

Under the nationality law in Poland, Polish citizens cannot be recognized as citizens of other countries at the same time. The possession of a foreign passport, however, is tolerated. Polish citizens cannot avoid civic obligations by using a foreign citizenship to get out of them.

Ukraine does not recognize dual citizenship. Under current laws, newly naturalized Ukrainian citizens must give up other nationalities within two years. Some countries in Eastern and Central Europe, on the other hand, such as the Czech Republic and Romania are open to multiple nationalities. Bulgarian, Serbian and Croatian citizens are entitled to hold dual citizenship, but foreigners wishing to be naturalized must renounce their previous nationality.

Spain

In principle, Spain permits dual citizenship for immigrants from Portugal, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Latin American countries with which it has concluded dual citizenship agreements. According to the Spanish constitution, immigrants from other nations must renounce their foreign nationality if they wish to hold Spanish citizenship. Spanish citizens are entitled to dual citizenship if they inform the authorities within three years that they wish to keep their Spanish passport.

Depending on the country, laws differ throughout southern Europe. Monaco and Andorra, for example, prohibit dual nationality but in Portugal, it is permitted.

Source: Dual citizenship in Europe: Which rules apply where? | Germany | DW.COM | 28.03.2017

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