Germany: The choice of citizenship

Rabie Al-Abed, a German citizen of Iraqi background, has turned 18 and must now like thousands of his peers choose between his birth German citizenship or his parents' in accordance with a law that bans dual citizenship.

"It is a bittersweet choice," Al-Abed told on Tuesday, December 27.

Al-Abed said he was in two minds whether to be naturalized German or maintain the Iraqi citizenship of his parents.

"It was such of an inner struggle, but I finally chose Iraq though I had never visited (the southern city) An-Najaf, the birthplace of my parents."

The Bundestag, the German parliament, passed in 1999 a new citizenship law, which came into effect a year later.

Under the law, newborn babies of immigrants living in the country automatically get German citizenship which could be revoked when they turn 18 if they preferred to keep the citizenship of their parents.

The law gives the grown-ups until the age of 23 to make up their minds.

Unlike many other European countries like France and Britain, Germany does not allow dual citizenship.


Immigration officials usually encourage undecided youths to choose the German citizenship.

They cite successful stories of immigrants who made their names in society like MP Cem Ozdemir, actor Fatih Akin and writer Emine Sevgi Ozdamar, all of Turkish origin.

Official estimates show that a meager of 1.18 percent of German youths of immigrant origin preferred German citizenship to their parents'.

German citizens of immigrant backgrounds consider the 1999 law an obstacle to the integration of the new generations.

"German authorities wrongly believe that this law helps youths of immigrant origin integrate smoothly into society," Ibrahim el-Zayat, a German citizen of Egyptian descent, told IOL.

El-Zayat, the director of the Islamic Assembly in Germany, said the opposite holds true.

"Thousands of those youths find themselves in an unenviable situation."

For Turks, numbering 2.2 million, the choice is almost a forgone conclusion.

"Although I was born and educated here I remain a Turk deep down," said Turkian, 23.

"When the time came, I choose the citizenship of my parents," said the media officer of the Muslims Union Center.

Turkish laws prevent those who relinquish their Turkish citizenship of all rights, including inheritance.

Turks make up the majority of the nearly 3.5 million Muslim minority in Germany.

Source: Islam Online (English)

1 comment:

t said...

Wow, thank you for the information. I'm a Nigerian living in the US, and the laws on immigration make no sense, reflecting the conflict among the current American people about foreigners: fears, wishes, hopes. I assume that it's even more schizophrenic in Germany.
I also understand as you've written how some people could never abandon their home country citizenship except under great duress. I agree.
I'll keep reading. Merry Christmas.