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Image: Katarzyna Domagala-Pereira

Merkel team spotlights public safety

August 19, 2016

Calls to outlaw dual citizenship in Germany from conservatives in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ranks have been dismissed as "daft" by the center-left Social Democrats. The row precedes a pre-election policy catalog.


Social Democrat (SPD) committee spokesman for migration and diversity Aziz Bozkurt accused Merkel's conservatives of behaving irrationally by rekindling dual citizenship debate as Germany awaited the conservatives' package.

The "Berlin Declaration" is to be unveiled Friday by Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizíere and fellow interior ministers from regional states who belong to Merkel's array of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU).

Their meeting overnight in Berlin precedes two regional assembly elections due next month in Berlin city-state and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania where established parties fear surges by the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. It already has opposition footholds in eight of Germany's 16 federal states.

Frank Henkel Lorenz Caffier CDU Kombo
Henkel (L) and Caffier face elections next monthImage: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen/O. Dietze

Emotionally absent, suggests Herrmann

Leading abolition advocates are two CDU interior ministers: Frank Henkel in Berlin and Lorenz Caffier in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

Their Bavarian counterpart Joachim Herrmann (CSU) said: "It doesn't make sense to distribute German passports to persons who in their hearts have not arrived in Germany."

Conservative call 'daft,'

Bozkurt remarked ironically to the Protestant news agency EPD that only the conservative interior ministers including de Maiziere and Bavaria's Herrman knew "what multiple-citizenship had to do with terror and public safety."

Their call was "daft," said Bozkurt, adding that multiple-citizenship was a practical everyday issue when it came to assisting elderly parents in countries of origin or resolving inheritance issues.

Portrait Aziz Bozkurt
'Daft' linkage, says Bozkurt - realities of daily life overlookedImage: Privat

"The realities of daily life of many millions of people in Germany are far more complex than [Merkel's party] alliance suggests in the discussion," Bozkurt added.

Social Democrat federal parliamentary group deputy chairman Eva Högl told the "Frankfurter Rundschau" newspaper Friday that abolition was "not attainable with the SPD," which currently is part of Merkel's federal grand coalition government.

"Purported loyality conflicts are not a mitigating argument, but just ostensible and pure, cheap propaganda" aimed at placing dual citizenship holders under general suspicion, Högl added.

Dual citizenship lingering issue

Germany balked on adopting dual citizenship as a legislated norm in 2000 after an abrasive election in Hesse state but nevertheless an estimated 4.3 million Germans now have a second nationality, led by persons with links to Poland, Russia and Turkey.

Hundreds of Britons jolted by the Brexit referendum decision on 23 June are also seeking German citizenship.

On burqas, de Maiziere and Merkel, have already soft-pedaled on some conservatives' calls to ban Muslim women from wearing the body-obscuring clothing in public, citing constitutional hurdles upholding religious freedoms.

Deutschland Bundesinnenminister Thomas de Maiziere im Bundestag in Berlin
Constitutional hurdles on burqa, says de MaiziereImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler

Merkel, meeting conservative ministers on Thursday, said women wearing the burka has "little chance to integrate" in Germany, while de Maiziere said a burka ban legislated in France had not led to a reduction in its usage.

Only minority wear headscarfs

More than two-thirds of Muslim women in Germany do not even wear a headscarf, according to a study by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

Hardly any women wore it, said Aiman Mazyek, the high-profile head of the Central Council of Muslims, one of the numerous groups representing Muslims across Germany.

Germany is home to about four million Muslims or about five percent of its total population of 81 million.

Germany, like France and Belgium, is on edge since several violent attacks last month. Two were subsequently claimed by the "Islamic State" militant group notorious for its brutality in parts of Syria and Iraq.

'No linkage,' says Turkish grouping

The TBB Turkish federation spanning some 30 organizations in the Berlin-Brandenburg region said Thursday "there is no linkage between terrorism and the burqa or public risk potential and dual citizenship."

"This is absurdly populist and an attempt to overtake the AfD on the right, said TBB spokeswoman Ayse Demir at a meeting with Federal Labor Minister Andrea Nahles of the SPD, which currently governs in a coalition with Merkel's alliance.

"This whole debate is a massive regression," added Demir, "because it sows mistrust and resentments."

'Errant' posturing

Nahles rejected the call from some conservatives to rid Germany of dual citizenship, describing it as "errant" proposition that carried the message "you don't belong."

Global Media Forum Nahles Interview DW
'Errant' policy, says NahlesImage: DW/M. von Heine

"One has the impression that some [individuals] want to boost their profile," Nahles said.

Berlin city-states' senate election takes place on September 18. Mecklenburg West-Pomerania's poll is set for September 4. Both assemblies are currently headed by Social Democrats: Michael Müller in Berlin, and Erwin Sellering in Schwerin.

ipj/jil (AFP, epd, dpa, Reuters)

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