Ecumenical News International

EKD Council chair Bedford-Strohm: Muslims belong to Germany

May 07. 2016

Halle (Westphalia) (epd). In the debate as to whether Islam belongs to Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), is strongly in favour of a dialogue with Muslims. "If Muslims live in Germany, they belong here," he stated today in Halle, Westphalia. And that also applied to their religion, he added. Speaking at the Festival of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia "A wider outlook works", Bedford-Strohm explained that when people declare that Islam does not belong to Germany they often mean fundamentalist Islam.

The rightwing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) had adopted a party programme a week before containing the phrase: "Islam does not belong to Germany." The party calls for a ban on minarets, muezzin calls to prayer and full-face veiling with the niqab or burka.

No political capital from attacks on Christians

Bedford-Strohm also underlined that fundamentalist attitudes directed against fundamental rights were unacceptable. Reports of attacks on Christian refugees in refugee accommodation must be followed up and the incidents investigated, he declared. However, the EKD Council chair warned against misusing the issue for political purposes.

Chancellery minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) stressed that the right to religious freedom applied to the several million Muslims living in Germany. He wished that this religious freedom could apply worldwide, i.e. also to Christians. Altmaier advocated a double strategy for dealing with Islam. On the one hand, fundamentalist hate preachers must be stopped and, on the other, dialogue with Islamic associations must be kept up. In that regard, the Islam Conference organized by the federal government had already achieved a great deal, he noted.




extended search