Mosques in Germany should be placed under state supervision, according to a leading conservative parliamentarian. Volker Kauder distanced himself, however, from a Bavarian call that imams speak German.
Sermons delivered in some mosques in Germany did not conform with Germany's secular state precepts, said Kauder who heads the conservatives' parliamentary group in Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.
Germany was constituted as a secular state in which religion did not stand above the state, but rather the state over religion, Kauder told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Friday.
All must comply with this precept, said Kauder, while claiming that in some mosques within Germany sermons were given that did not conform with the modern understanding of statehood.
"There is a need for the state to act," Kauder said. "There must be supervision."
Kauder belongs to Chancellor Angerla Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). In parliament he heads a group comprising members of the CDU and the Christian Social Union (CSU) party based in Bavaria.
His remarks precede a weekend congress in Stuttgart of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) partywhich has drafted an anti-Islamic manifesto.
Governing conservatives have in recent years increasingly acknowledged that Islam- alongside Christianity and Judaism - is part of Germany, a country that is home to some four million Muslims.
Secular state sets the rules
The secular precept must be accepted by "representatives and members of all religions," Kauder told the Berliner Zeitung.
"It may be different in Islamic countries. In Germany the state sets the rules," he said.
Reacting to a Bavarian CSU demand that preachers or imams must use the German language when addressing gatherings in mosques, Kauder said this was a "spurious debate."
"For Italians the holy mass is given in Italian. In the synagogues prayer is held in Hebrew. That is to be accepted," Kauder said.
Reacting on Thursday to the AfD's anti-Islamic stance, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek accused the AfD of picking out Muslims as a whole.
"It is the first time since Hitler's Germany that there is a party which discredits and existentially threatens an entire religious community, " said Mazyek.
Opposition Greens' senior lawmaker, Konstantin von Notz, accused the AfD of trying to "deliberately to turn Islam into a bogeyman to capture voters."
ipj/kms (KNA, dpa, Reuters, AFP)