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Germany

Kaplan Case Casts Doubt on Immigration Compromise

The long-winded case of Metin Kaplan, the radical Muslim cleric, is threatening the recent German immigration compromise. The conservative opposition has renewed calls that the law include tighter security measures.

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Kaplan's fundamentalist Islamic group has been banned in Germany.

After the botched attempt to arrest and deport radical Muslim imam Metin Kaplan from Germany, the opposition is raising new questions about the compromise reached with Chancellor Schröder's government over a much-needed immigration law.

Edmund Stoiber, Bavarian premier and head of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), who was part of the long-running immigration negotiations, has demanded further refinements to the compromise which is designed to make it easier for qualified foreigners to move to Germany and work here.

Kaplan case a "big disgrace"

Der Kalif von Köln Muhammed Metin Kaplan

Metin Kaplan, the self-styled "Caliph of Cologne"

Referring to German courts' failure to deport Kaplan (photo), who has been found guilty of inciting hate in Germany and wanted in Turkey for high treason, Stoiber told Bild am Sonntag that he would only sign an immigration law "when hate-preachers like Kaplan would in future face shorter trials and when such people can be deported."

Stoiber criticized the handling of Kaplan's case by German officials as "one of the biggest disgraces for the security authorities in past years."

Following Kaplan's sudden disappearance from Cologne last week that prompted a Europe-wide manhunt and embarrassed German security officials and his subsequent resurfacing, Stoiber has demanded clear laws for round-the-clock surveillance of terror suspects to be included in the immigration law.

Conservatives for preventive detention

Even Angela Merkel, head of the opposition conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is unhappy with the compromise which has watered down several tough security measures that the conservatives wanted included.

In light of Kaplan's case, Merkel has renewed calls for preventive detention of up to two years for terror suspects -- a clause which was been left out in the proposed immigration law.

"The topic has to be discussed with experts and can't just be swept under the carpet," Merkel said in a newspaper interview over the weekend.

Government unbending on compromise

The proposed law however will make it easier for Germany to deport religious extremists and agitators such as Kaplan. In cases where deportation would result in suspects facing torture or the death penalty in their home country, the suspect can remain in Germany under tight restrictions limiting freedom of movement, communication, etc.

The lack of the latter has been bedeviling Kaplan's case because there have been fears he could be tortured if he were deported to his native Turkey.

Germany's ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Greens has refused to bow in to further security demands by the conservatives and tighten existing measures.

"Nothing more will be saddled on to the compromise," Interior Minister Otto Schily warned on Sunday and said the law would now be formulated according to the compromise reached with the opposition.

Amnesty slams immigration compromise

The compromise however has been strongly criticized by the German chapter of human rights group Amnesty International (AI).

AI refugee expert Wolfgang Grenz told news agency dpa on Saturday that the German immigration debate had been too strongly dominated by security concerns. "That's no big success when one considers that originally a modern immigration law was planned," he said.

Even migration researcher Dieter Oberndörfer said the immigration compromise was colored by the daily business of politics. He said he "feared a provincial fear society and a growing narrow-mindedness."

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