In recent days, two prominent German Christians offered up their thoughts to the country’s Muslims on their search for identity. Markus Söder, the finance minister of the state of Bavaria, surprised an audience of Turkish immigrants by saying that Islam is an “integral part of Bavaria.”
Then, German President Joachim Gauck told the influential weekly Die Zeit that he shares the intentions of his predecessor, former President Christian Wulff. Gauck slightly re-formulated Wulff’s most famous sentence by saying: “The Muslims who live here belong to Germany.”
That now makes five such prominent voices weighing in on the ongoing debate. Wulff, from whom Gauck has now distanced himself, was first. He said: “By now, Islam also belongs to Germany.”
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich contradicted him, saying: “That Islam is part of Germany is a fact that cannot be proven by history.” He said that Germany’s identity has been “shaped by Christianity and the Enlightenment.” Then, senior parliamentary conservative Volker Kauder maintained that “Islam is not a part of our tradition and identity.”
So which is it? Who or what belongs to Germany? Islam? The Enlightenment? Muslims? Christianity?