“Islam does not belong in this country, Germany is shaped by Christianity,” the newly appointed German Minister of the Interior recently declared. His comment, factually correct, but politically inappropriate, was eventually contradicted by Chancellor Merkel, who stated, “Muslims too are a part of Germany; therefore, their religion is also a part of Germany”. Nevertheless, the extent to which Muslim immigrants are accepted in western nations will continue to be a subject of debate for years to come.
More than four million Muslims, 1.9 million of whom are German citizens, live in Germany. A large proportion of Germany’s Muslim society tends to abide by the German work culture, probably more because they are forced to integrate into the German work system than out of admiration. Many have truly ‘suffered’ by working long hours in blue-collar jobs in order to survive and to continue to reside in their adopted nation. However, this ‘suffering’ won’t earn them any degree of sympathy from German citizens who believe that it is the only way to make a living.
Merkel also stated, “I believe that we must do everything we can to allow religions to live together in peace.” Nevertheless, the clear majority of Germans – and perhaps white westerners at large – probably silently favor the departure of non-westerners from their countries. Westerners’ belief in equality and tolerance applies only to those of western national origin; newcomers, even those who have nothing to do with Islam, will always lead the life of second-class citizens.
As usual, international media highlighted the German Minister of the Interior’s initial provocative remarks. However, when his superior tried to mitigate his statements, her remarks were less prominently featured, hardly noticed by universal citizens – similar to the way in which Muslim terrorists’ threats to destroy the West capture the media’s attention while the true values of Islam (or any other religion) receive no coverage.
Culturally, western citizens perceive their society’s shortcomings as ‘natural errors’ that they tend to acknowledge and that some are attempting to rectify. The killing and injuring of 33 students in Florida by a 19-year-old American a few weeks ago was a horrifying accident for Americans, but it was not a shocking one; in the U.S., hundreds of students have been killed and injured in numerous school shootings since the 19th century. Western students’ killing of their schoolmates is a ‘culturally tolerated’ phenomenon that has prompted many Americans to consider arming schoolteachers to turn schools into well-balanced battlefields.
Meanwhile, Islamophobia is spreading rapidly in western nations, intensely affecting their governments and citizens. As the West happily acknowledges and provides media coverage to the arguments put forth by a few Muslim terrorists, ignoring the 1.8 Muslims who want to live in peace, it is no wonder that terrorist attacks by Muslims are perceived to reflect an obvious defect in our religion, Islam!
We universal citizens have become tenser, easily engaging in violence. Nevertheless, prior to blaming ordinary citizens, we need to look at whether our respective leaders have attempted to calm things down – or whether they are working to inflame conditions further. While I don’t see any direct link between the German Minister of the Interior’s comments and potential terrorism, his declaration, and many others like it, are certainly stoking social tensions and increasing intolerance.
For a few days, I wondered whether the German minister (who was fairly elected in the latest parliamentary elections and eventually selected by Chancellor Merkel to join her new government) was speaking his mind or whether his words reflect German society’s views and behavior. Then I learnt about a survey on this matter in which 76% of German citizens endorsed the minister’s declaration. The minister’s remarks may increase his popularity among Germans – but they certainly serve to split the world further and to make life more challenging for millions of Muslims.