Merkel dismisses allies′ calls for ′Islam law′ | News | DW | 03.04.2017
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Merkel dismisses allies' calls for 'Islam law'

The German government has rejected calls from within the Christian Democratic Union party for a law to regulate the practices of Islam. CDU lawmakers have stoked the migration debate ahead of this year's election.

The German government on Monday said it had no plans to introduce a so-called "Islam law" after allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed a new series of laws governing the practice of Islam.

Seeking to boost support for Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) ahead of September's general election, CDU deputy head Julia Klöckner and executive committee Jens Spahn floated the idea of regulating the practices of Germany's Muslim population and introducing a mosque registry.

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The chancellor, who is running for a fourth term in office this year, has suffered a dip in support due to her "open door" migrant policy, which has seen almost a million mostly Muslim migrants enter Germany since 2015.

However, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert dismissed the idea on Monday. "Such a law is not now an issue for government business," he told reporters.

Seibert also emphasized the ruling coalition government's high regard for religious freedom in Germany, stressing that was "one of the central freedoms promised by our constitution."

Meanwhile, former secretary-general CDU Ruprecht Polenz, described the proposal as a "populist crackpot idea."

Reclaiming lost support

CDU calls for an "Islam law" had sought to address unease among the party's conservative base, a significant number of which have said they may instead back the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The AfD saw it support peak at around 15.5 percent at the end of 2016, although infighting and extremely divisive statements by party members has seen its support slide to around 8 percent.

Merkel demonstrated during December CDU party conference that she was prepared to take a less compromising tone in the immigration debate, when she called for a ban on full-face veils "wherever legally possible."

dm/rc (dpa, Reuters)