Most politicians in Germany have gotten the message: The quickest way to spark a career-damaging controversy is to make a facile comment about Nazis or the Holocaust. Media critics and political opponents are quick to pounce.
But that isn't the only way to attract unwanted attention, as Jochen Hartloff, the interior minister of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, found out this week. In an interview with the Berlin tabloid BZ, Hartloff said that Sharia law, in a "modern form," would be acceptable in Germany. In comments published on Friday in the center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, he added that Islamic moral code "is certainly conceivable when it comes to questions pertaining to civil law."
Hartloff, a politician from the center-left Social Democrats, made clear that he was referring specifically to family law issues such as divorce settlements and alimony, but also certain instances of contract law in which devout Muslims seek to avoid paying interest. Applying Sharia rules, he said, could help avoid hostility in such cases.