Berlin, Paris debating status of Muslims

Berlin, Paris debating status of Muslims

Berlin, Paris debating status of Muslims

German Chancellor Merkel tells her party to show tolerance for Muslims. EPA photo

Germany and France, which host the biggest Muslim populations in Europe, are debating the status of Muslims. Germany accepts them as part of its identity, while France is considering expelling Muslims who represent a “serious threat to public order.”

France, which has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe – an estimated 5 million Muslims, will expel any foreigner who threatens security at home or abroad in the name of Islam or does not respect the country’s secular traditions, according to Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

France will be “intransigent... and I will not hesitate to expel those who claim to follow Islam and represent a serious threat to public order and as foreigners in our country do not respect our laws and values,” he said yesterday. His remarks came after the violent protests that have taken place in recent weeks across the Muslim world against a U.S.-produced anti-Islam film and offensive Prophet Muhammad caricatures published by a French magazine.

“The preachers of hatred, those espousing obscurantism and fundamentalists ... do not have a place in France,” Valls said. “Racism, fundamentalism is not part of Islam.”

“Those who are on our soil to defy our laws and want to attack the foundations of our society cannot remain here,” he said.

Islam is part of us: Merkel

The German chancellor, however, described Islam as a part of the country, which is home to an estimated four million Muslims.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to show tolerance for Muslims, addressing members of her Christian Democratic Party Sept. 26. Germans “should be open about [Islam] and say, ‘Yes, it’s a part of us,’” Merkel said.

Merkel said Germans should be careful to differentiate between Islamists and the religion itself. “We must be incredibly careful that we don’t lump everyone together,” the chancellor said. “The Islamists are not the Islam of Germany.”

Indeed, the majority of Muslims in Germany have distanced themselves from the violence abroad, Merkel said, adding that those who refuse to recognize the country’s laws can naturally expect to face legal consequences. Meanwhile, Merkel canceled a scheduled visit to Tunisia in early October, an aide said, with a German paper citing continuing safety concerns.