Muslims living in Germany belong there, asserts Gauck
BERLIN - Anatolia News Agency
Germany’s President Gauck (R, bottom) and his partner Daniela Schadt talk with Palestinian schoolgirls in the West Bank. AA photoMuslims living in Germany belong in the country, German President Joachim Gauck has said, reviving a debate begun by former President Christian Wulff in 2010.
Regarding the debate over whether Islam belongs in Germany or not, Gauck said he did not endorse Wulff’s statement that Islam belonged to Germany, but respects his position, in an interview with German magazine Die Zeit. “The truth is that there are many Muslims living in the country. What I will say is this: Muslims living here belong in Germany,” Gauck said. He warned that short sentences expressing “belonging to a place,” especially with regard to religious groups, may pose problems. Wulff’s statement in 2010 about Islam sparked controversy in Germany.
Visit to Israel and Palestine
Meanwhile, on his first official visit to Israel and Palestinian territories, Gauck asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on May 30 for a gesture on the issue of West Bank settlements. “Germany and Europe would be grateful for any sign on the settlements issue. We regard this issue as key for the peace process,” a presidential spokesman quoted Gauck as telling his host. But Gauck assured Netanyahu that the close relationship between the two countries would remain steadfast. “Our friendship is not in danger,” he was quoted as saying. Israel-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since late September 2010 over an intractable dispute about settlements. Palestinians say they will not resume negotiations unless Israel freezes settlement construction and agrees to base any future talks on the lines that existed before it captured the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War.