Everyone is upset with Germany’s interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, for saying, “Islam in Germany is not something substantiated by history at any point.”
Instead of seeing it as a “slap in the face of Muslims”, as Lamya Kaddor, chairperson of the Liberal-Islamic Union in Germany is seeing it, the more pertinent query is about the minister’s belief that successful integration needs “two things: knowledge of the social reality in Germany and a clear awareness of the western Christian origin of our culture”.
There will be indepth analyses, but one thing is clear: There is a huge identity tussle in Western Europe and if it is getting them in touch with their roots, then Islam should be given credit.
The two points mentioned by the minister have two simple answers:
- The social reality of Germany includes immigrants and not only the four million Muslims. While it is important for them to learn the language, will it integrate them? Unskilled migrants often don’t need to communicate with their distant bosses. There are several examples and we cannot use this to alienate anyone. Our own migrants to the Gulf regions know little or no Arabic and they constitute a huge chunk of the workforce at every level. With so many multinationals in India, we see foreign women and men and they do not speak Hindi, even if they are working for NGOs.
- Regarding the Western Christian origin of German culture, besides the evolution to the idea of the supreme Aryan race to several others, it has not been static. However, I am glad the minister has put it this way. For long the West has been hiding behind the hypocritical curtain of the division of state and religion. It used the negative images of Islam as an example of how rotten it is to have these two aspects together. The fact is that western nations have always had the Christian subtext.
At last someone has voiced it clearly. Now we can look at these nations in the same manner in which they look at others.