Germany: Justice Minister wants Islam to be given same opportunities as Christianity

Germany: Justice Minister wants Islam to be given same opportunities as Christianity

In an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP), calls to give Islam the same opportunities as Christianity. The article was also posted on the Justice Ministry website (h/t NRP).

I summarized the article below. The article itself seemed to span a lot of issues, and I'll be glad to hear from my readers if I missed any important point.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger says that the Islam-debate is based mostly on cliches and stereotypes, rather than on knowledge. The Old Testament decrees the death sentence for murderers, but nobody uses that to support the death sentence today. There are Islamic scholars who base radical and anti-human-rights minority opinions on the Koran, but they do not represent the whole of Islamic law. Germany should support the modernization of Islamic law, instead of invoking the 'Judeo-Christian' tradition. In any case, she says, Jews don't like that term, Judaism and Christianity have different traditions, and Islam also has a heritage in the West.

Muslims shouldn't be defined as a group. Everybody is obligated to follow the law, and everybody is guaranteed the basic rights stated in the constitution.

During the Kulturkampf ('culture war') in Germany in the 1870s, the Catholic Church's authority was forced under that of the secular state. Much as is the case for Muslims today, the Germans were afraid that the Catholics were bound to a 'higher law' and not the law of the land. From 1871 and until 1953, the penal code banned priests from preaching against the state, what today we would call 'hate preachers'.

The Kulturkampf failed politically, but had a rational cure: the separation of church and state, which still remains part of the constitution. This idea exists only very rudimentarily, if at all, in Muslim countries, and it is one of the main differences between modern Christianity and present-day Islam, and it's this idea which allows for religious freedom.

The Ministry of Justice is entrusted with ensuring the constitutional freedom of religion, regardless of which religion or faith it might be, and whether they express their faith with a prayer rug or by putting a red dot on their forehead. Everybody should have an equal opportunity to voice their concerns.

Exclusion leads to fundamentalism, and is not suitable for our modern, open, society. Instead of debates based on fear, we need unbiased discussion on religions and their rights. We need to know a lot more about Islamic law before we can start criticizing it on the issue of rights.