Andreas Rinke, Reuters, January 12, 2015
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday Islam “belongs to Germany”, in a clear repudiation of anti-immigration protesters gathering in Dresden and other cities.
A day after walking arm-in-arm with French President Francois Hollande at the front of a massive march in Paris to honor the victims of killings by Islamic militants, Merkel received the Turkish prime minister and urged dialogue among religions.
The conservative chancellor pointed to comments made by former German president Christian Wulff, who said in 2010 that Islam was part of Germany, triggering a fierce debate.
“Former president Wulff said Islam belongs to Germany. That is true. I also hold this opinion,” Merkel said at a news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who also took part with other world leaders in the Paris march on Sunday.
She was speaking hours before marches by a movement dubbed PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, were due to begin in several German cities.
Nearly two in three of the four million Muslims in Germany are of Turkish origin. Roughly half are German citizens.
Merkel and other German politicians are due to take part in a solemn vigil at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Tuesday. Muslim organizations called the event to remember the victims of last week’s Islamist militant assaults on the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris.