Germany: Muslim minister-designate backs school crucifix ban
Ayguel Oezkan, the designated social minister in Lower Saxony who is set to be Germany's first Muslim minister of Turkish origin, has caused controversy by calling for a ban on crucifixes in state schools.
Ayguel Oezkan has created waves before even taking office as social minister in the north-western German state of Lower Saxony.
The 38-year-old, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said in an interview on Saturday that crucifixes have as little place in state schools as do headscarves.
"Christian symbols do not belong in state schools," Oezkan told German magazine Focus, adding that "schools should be neutral places where children can decide their religious orientation on their own. Just as head scarves do not belong in classrooms."
Oezkan's comments have ruffled feathers in her own conservative party.
Lower Saxony state premier, Christian Wulff, distanced himself from the designated minister's remarks
"Christian symbols, above all the crucifix in schools, are welcomed by the state government in Lower Saxony in keeping with the practice of tolerant education on the basis of Christian values," Wulff told news agency dpa.
He added that students wearing headscarves too were tolerated on grounds of religious freedom but not teachers.
Oezkan has been given police protection in recent days. According to authorities, she has received letters and emails threatening that "something would happen" if she accepts her post, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
Source: DW-World (English)