Muslim Groups Angry Over ‘Racist’ Citizenship Test

Expatica, Jan. 6, 2005

BERLIN—Blunt questions posed to Muslims seeking German citizenship in a Christian Democratic-ruled federal state are fuelling anger and the threat of discrimination lawsuits from Islamic groups.

“Where do you stand on the statement that a wife should obey her husband and that he can hit her if she fails to do so?” is among 30 questions which can be asked by officials to Muslims seeking a German passport in southern Baden-Wuerttemberg state since January 1.

Only Muslims from the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) are required to answer the questions as part of the process to become German citizens.

All other nationalities and religions are not subject to any of the sometimes deeply personal questions which include the following:

—“Imagine that your adult son comes to you and says he is homosexual and plans to live with another man. How do you react?”

—“Your daughter or sister comes homes and says she has been sexually molested. What do you do as father/mother/brother/sister?”

—“What do you think if a man in Germany is married to two women at the same time?”

Other questions include whether Muslim men are willing to be treated by female doctors in Germany; views on forced marriage; changing religion; and whether those who carried on the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington were “terrorists or freedom fighters.”

Muslim groups in Germany have reacted with outrage to the questions which they say are blatant discrimination because only people of the Islamic faith are forced to give answers.

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany say the practice violates Germany’s constitution and several Islamic groups plan lawsuits aimed at halting the practice.

Ute Vogt, the opposition Social Democratic (SPD) leader in Baden-Wuerttemberg, slammed the practice as “full of cheap clichés and based on prejudice against Muslims.”

Hans Georg Junginger, the SPD domestic policy spokesman in the state, took a more cynical view and noted most people posed the questions would be smart enough to know what answers they had to give to please officials.

But the state’s interior ministry has defended the new system by saying a segment of Muslim society in Germany does not view its faith as something which can conform to the nation’s constitution.

Officials insist that not all applicants will be asked all of the questions.

Nevertheless, a written version of whatever questions are asked must be signed by passport applicants which concludes with a tough warning that giving “false answers . . . can lead to a loss of (German) nationality, even after years, and even if this means that I will become stateless.”

While the state’s ruling Christian Democratic Union—Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party—are so far standing firm on the practice, their junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), appear to be getting cold feet.

The state’s FDP justice minister, Ulrich Goll, was quoted as saying his party now wanted to ensure that people of all faiths and from all nations seeking German citizenship be asked questions from the list.

Germany has an estimated 3.5 million Muslims out of a total population of 82 million. The biggest Muslim community is from Turkey and numbers about 2 million.

Latest figures from Germany’s domestic security agency, the Verfassungsschutz, put the number of Islamist extremists living in Germany at almost 32,000.

Muslim concentrations in Germany are found in major cities including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

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