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EUROPE > Hamburg becomes first to legalize Muslim feast

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A German and a Turkish flags blow in the wind in front of a mosque in Duisburg-Marxloh, Germany. Hamburg will officially recognize Islamic holidays. AP photo

A German and a Turkish flags blow in the wind in front of a mosque in Duisburg-Marxloh, Germany. Hamburg will officially recognize Islamic holidays. AP photo

Authorities in Hamburg have become the first in Germany to officially recognize Islamic holidays so Muslim employees and students can observe them at home.

The decision forms part of an agreement between the north German city and local Muslim groups, The Associated Press reported. Similar agreements exist with Christian and Jewish communities in the city. Hamburg’s mayor, Olaf Scholz, said on Aug. 14 that he hoped the deal would serve as an example for other German cities.

Authorities estimate some 150,000 Muslims live the city of almost 2 million people. The growing public presence of Islamic culture in Germany has sparked anger among conservatives and far-right groups.

Authorities ‘downplayed’ neo-Nazi terror in Germany

Police in Berlin were on alert for possible violence this weekend after a small far-right party said it planned to stage protests outside mosques in the German capital.

Meanwhile, a new report, released by a foundation which fights against racism and anti-Semitism, criticizes German authorities of downplaying right-wing violence.

The Amadeu Antonio Foundation has accused German authorities of trivializing right-wing extremism in its recent report, Deutsche Welle reported on its website Aug. 14. The report claims little has been done in the wake of the murders by the underground neo-Nazi group NSU.

The National Socialist Underground (NSU) is suspected of killing eight Turkish men and a Greek between 2000 and 2006 and a policewoman in 2007 in attacks across the country. The report suggests that for years, the violence of extreme right groups has been played down by authorities. “The dangerousness of the offender is denied, and hidden racism becomes the motive for right-wing extremist crimes,” said Marion Kraske, author of the report.

Foundation chairwoman Anetta Kahane said the NSU deeds are, “just the tip of the iceberg of right-wing violence.” She added that many places in Germany are a “no-go area” for people with non-white skin color. “It is absurd, that all the criticism is focused on the federal interior minister, but the person responsible for prevention, Youth Minister Kristina Schröder, has her hands in her lap.”

August/16/2012

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