German President Christian Wulff said Sunday that Islam had a place in Germany, during a speech celebrating two decades of reunification.
The president, who holds a largely ceremonial position but is considered a moral authority for the nation, used the televised ceremony to wade into a debate over immigrant integration that has captivated public attention for weeks.
"First and foremost, we need adopt a clear stance: an understanding that for Germany, belonging is not restricted to a passport, a family history, or a religion," he told an audience in the northern city of Bremen.
"Christianity doubtless belongs in Germany. Judaism belongs doubtless in Germany. That is our Judeo-Christian history. But by now, Islam also belongs in Germany," he added.
Wulff's speech was part of nationwide festivities marking reunification in 1990, after Germany spent a half-century divided into two countries following defeat in World War Two.
His comments came after a sustained public discussion on the role of immigrants, most of whom were seen until a decade ago as "guest workers" who would eventually return to other countries.