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Germany's integration commissioner proposes multilingual subtitles for Merkel, Gauck speeches

Arabic subtitles should be added to Christmas and New Year's speeches by Germany's president and chancellor, according to integration commissioner Aydan Özoguz. She has suggested six language subtitles to help refugees.

Özoguz suggested Wednesday that multilingual subtitles be added to video downloads of the speech to be televised at Christmas from President Joachim Gauck and then Chancellor Angela Merkel's New Year's address.

The Social Democrat (SPD) Özoguz, who is states' secretary for integration in Merkel's grand coalition cabinet, told the German news agency DPA that Germany's large intake of refugees was "THE topic of the year 2015.

Jordanien Wirtschaftsminister Gabriel besucht das Flüchtlingslager Saartari

Ozoguz visiting a refugee camp in Jordan with German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) in September

"Therefore it would be good, if the refugees could also comprehend how we in this country [traditionally] experience the situation - for example, the addresses given by the federal chancellor and president at Christmas and New Year's," Özoguz said.

"Perhaps a few other EU heads of state will listen more closely," Özoguz quipped, referring to leaders of

other EU nations.

Appeals from German leaders

Gauck, the ceremonial head of state, told Germany in September as migrant inflows reached 10,000 per day, that "hearts" in Germany were open to building extra accommodation and schools, teaching the German language and law, and providing vocational training, even if "our capabilities are finite."

Joachim Gauck Rede Tag der Deutschen Einheit Frankfurt am Main Deutschland

Addressing issues, Gauck in Frankfurt in October

Merkel survived a backlash from conservative ranks by telling voters "we will somehow manage this" and then

winning over her Christian Democratic (CDU) party's main conference

by pledging a decline in migrant numbers through a multi-pronged approach, including providing funds for refugee camps in the Middle East.

Video database

Özuguz said online video databases provided by Germany's regional and federal broadcasters should also offer subtitled translations of the speeches to be given by Merkel and Gauck.

Referring to key languages used by new arrivals from crisis and war regions, Özugun suggested Arabic [for Syrians], Farsi [for Iranians], Pashtu [for Afghans], Tigrinya [for Eritreans], "or also English and French."

Multilingual online advice for migrant newcomers on living in Germany

has been boosted by Deutsche Welle, which operates in 30 languages

- alongside offerings by other media outlets and institutions.

Arabic already available

Reacting to Özugoz' remarks, Deutsche Welle management on Wednesday said Merkel's New Year's speech would be translated into Arabic for DW's Arabic satellite service to the Middle East. Since last week, this

Arabic-language satellite signal could also be easily received in Germany

and other parts of western Europe via Astra 1M.

Gauck's televised Christmas address would be translated into Englisch, DW added.

Silent majority urged to speak up

Reacting to a

number of arson attacks across Germany on hostels

intended for - or already used by - asylum seekers, Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday urged the "silent majority" to show more civil courage.

Heiko Maas Dunja Hayali Heidenau Deutschland Thema Asyl Asylpolitik PK

Maas (R) and prominent German TV presenter Dunja Hayali highlighted asylum rights in August

People who spoke out "resolutely so that our societal debate is not poisoned by incitement and hate," were needed, Maas told the "Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper, referring to xenophobic sentiment emerging at far-right rallies and in social media.

Counteracting this rhetoric was a task for everyone "in our everyday lives, whether in the commuter train, at work or at the sports club," Maas said.

A radical minority should not be allowed to destroy free and open society, he added.

ipj/jm (dpa, KNA, epd)

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