German cabinet minister says, uh, something about Islam’s place in Germany

Germany’s new Interior Minister has made waves by declaring that “Islam does not belong in Germany,” as reported at several mainstream news sites. The trouble is, the minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, didn’t actually say that. His actual words were, “Islam in Germany is not something supported by history at any point.” That, obviously, is not the same as saying that Islam does not belong in Germany now. In fact, at the same press conference, and perhaps even in the same sentence, he also said that Muslims should be allowed to live in modern Germany. So clearly his position is not that Islam or Muslims don’t belong in Germany. It will be interesting to see how many Islamo-critical websites report, and applaud, the mainstream media’s exciting but false characterization of Friedrich’s statement, that “Islam doesn’t belong in Germany,” and miss what he really said.

Now perhaps what Friedrich really believes, and would like to say, is that Muslims don’t belong in Germany and the West, and he is edging as close to such a statement as he feels he can safely go at the moment. In that sense, his remarks could be seen as part of a new recognition on the part of some European leaders and media figures of the difficulties of integrating Muslims into Europe, and ought to be welcomed.

But now let’s consider further what Friedrich actually said. A news site reports:

“Successful integration requires two things: knowledge of the social reality in Germany—where about 4 million Muslims live—and a clear awareness of the Western Christian origin of our culture,” he said in Berlin on Saturday.

Friedrich added that he wanted to initiate a dialogue “in this sense” with his fellow Muslim citizens.

In other words, the Muslims, in order to be assimilated, need to know something about Germany’s historic culture, and Friedrich wants to engage in a dialogue with them in order to persuade them of the necessity of such knowledge. Which comes down to saying nothing more than that immigrants ought to assimilate into the host culture. But of course the belief that immigrants can and ought to assimilate into the host culture is part of the very belief system that enabled the immigration of Muslims and other unassimilable peoples in the first place. It can’t be said often enough: assimiliationism is the false opposite of multiculturalism, since assimilationism and multiculturalism both hold that Muslims belong in the West, and assmilationism and multiculturalism both welcome Muslims’ immigration and increasing numbers in the West. So I don’t see Friedrich’s statement as representing a significant step away from Europe’s suicidal stance vis a vis Islam and Muslim immigration. In truth, the West has no chance of saving itself from Islamization until at least some prominent Western figures start stating, without cavil and without retreat, that Islam does not belong in the West.

In the three below news stories, note how the headline and the paraphrases of Friedrich’s statements are different from his actual quoted statements:

First, a story from Ha’aretz:

New German minister: Islam does not belong in Germany

Hans-Peter Friedrich’s comment comes in context of probe into killing of two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport believed to be motivated by radical Islamist beliefs.

Just three days into the job, Germany’s new interior minister is already causing his government a headache after wading into a highly delicate debate about multiculturalism and claiming Islam was not a key part of the German way of life. “Islam in Germany is not something supported by history at any point,” Hans-Peter Friedrich told journalists on his first day as Thomas de Maiziere’s replacement on Thursday.

Friedrich was speaking in the context of a probe by German authorities into last Wednesday’s killing of two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport, in which it is believed the 21-year-old Kosovan suspect Arid Uka was a lone operator motivated by radical Islamist beliefs. His comments were a play on words, turning on its head an earlier remark made several months ago by German President Christian Wulff, who said Islam now “belongs to Germany” because of the 4 million Muslims who live there.

Friedrich’s foray into the subject of immigrant religion and multiculturalism is in tune with comments made by other European leaders recently. British Prime Minister David Cameron said last month that multiculturalism has failed in Britain and left young Muslims vulnerable to radicalization, arguing for a more active policy to heal divisions and promote Western values.

Germany is home to Western Europe’s second-biggest Islamic population after France. The single biggest minority is Turkish. In contrast to the situation in Britain or France, where simmering racial tensions sometimes explode into violence, German Muslims live relatively peacefully alongside mainstream society, but a lack of integration has long posed a problem.

Opposition member Dieter Wiefelsputz of the Social Democratic Party referred to Friedrich’s comments as “rubbish,” saying that the minister began his term with “poor judgment.”

This story, from the Journal, has a somewhat different and stronger quote than the Ha’aretz story, but, as with Ha’aretz, the quote is still markedly different from the way Friedrich’s statement is represented in the headline.

Germany’s new interior minister says Islam does not belong in the country


GERMANY’S NEW INTERIOR Minister has sparked a row after claiming that Islam does not belong in the country.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, who took office this week, was responding to a questions about this week’s gun attack at Frankfurt airport in which two US soldiers were killed by a suspected radical Muslim, according to The Guardian.

In his first press conference, Friedrich said that whilst Muslims should be allowed to live in modern Germany, he added:

To say that Islam belongs in Germany is not a fact supported by history.

He was immediately criticised by other German politicians including justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger who insisted that “of course Islam belongs in Germany.”

Friedrich was appointed to his new post in a reshuffle by Chancellor Angela Merkel which was sparked by the resignation of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Tuesday after he was found to have plagiarised his PhD thesis.

And here’s yet another article, from an English language German news site, with yet a different quote from Friedrich. Notice how the statement they repeatedly attribute to him—in the subheadline, in a photo caption, and in the article proper—is not backed up by any direct quote of his:

Interior minister reignites debate over Islam in Germany

A young woman wearing a headscarf speaking to two women without a headscarf

Is Islam a key part to the German way of life?

Hans-Peter Friedrich’s comments on Islam not being a key part of the German way of life have landed Berlin’s new interior minister in the middle of a growing imbroglio.

Reactions to Hans-Peter Friedrich’s statements about the role of Islam in Germany gained volume on Saturday, March 5, as the new interior minister reiterated his comments on Islam.

Friedrich had created a fresh round of furor over integration in Germany shortly after taking over the position of interior minister. Islam is not a key part of the German way of life, Friedrich told journalists last week on his first day on the job.

“Successful integration requires two things: knowledge of the social reality in Germany—where about 4 million Muslims live—and a clear awareness of the Western Christian origin of our culture,” he said in Berlin on Saturday.

Friedrich added that he wanted to initiate a dialogue “in this sense” with his fellow Muslim citizens.

Learning the language

Hans-Peter FriedrichBildunterschrift: Grossansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Hans-Peter Friedrich tackled the issue of Islam on his first day

The new interior minister also said everyone living or growing up in Germany must “first and foremost learn German.” He said his chief goal as interior minister was to “bring society together and not polarize it.”

[end of article]

Whether they drink or not, most journalists today are the functional equivalent of drunks who don’t care if what they publish is true or not, who don’t care if it holds together or not. All their thinking is approximate. If their paraphrase of a public figure’s statement is roughly in the same ballpark as his actual statement, they think they’ve done their job. I believe that this attitude on the part of journalists is very much a product of modern liberal culture which denies the existence and the knowability of truth.

Also, here are instances in which I have said that “Muslims in significant numbers do not belong in the West.”

- end of initial entry -

Daniel S., who sent the article to VFR, writes:

On a closer look I came to the same conclusion. The minister’s comments are true as far as they go, but he hardly said anything radical or made a challenge to the multicultural status quo. The liberal media is so utterly craven that any perceived criticism of Islam or Muslims, no matter how mild and meaningless, must be jumped upon to demonize the one who made the statement.

LA replies:

Yes. The liberal mainstream media sees the statement “Islam does not belong in Germany” as horrible and wicked, while serious opponents of Islam in the West see it as inspiring and hopeful. But both groups are operating under an illusion, for the simple reason that Friedrich didn’t say it.

How many of our controversies today are just like that? Take Sarah Palin. Many conservatives absolutely love her, because they see her as a “real conservative,” while people on the left absolutely loathe her, for exactly the same reason. But both sides are wrong, because in so many ways Palin is not a real conservative. For example, the left thinks that she’s a Torquemada on abortion, when, in reality, she has never proposed any restrictions on abortion and has always expressed her opposition to abortion in terms of her personal beliefs while indicating tolerance for people with different beliefs.

Similarly, many liberals, amazingly, have called Palin a white racist, while some race-conscious conservatives have considered her at least a representative of whiteness. In reality, Palin has never emitted the slightest hint that she opposes the current liberal racial order or would do anything as president to undercut it.

Thus the whole passionate, hate-filled fight between left and right over Sarah Palin is based on illusions, driven by overcharged but misleading symbols rather than by anything real.

In the same way, every time some European political figure issues some patently equivocal statement criticizing multiculturalism, the left reacts in panic, and the right reacts with joy, both sides believing that the rule of multiculturalism has been rejected and is imminently threatened, when in reality, multiculturalism is deeply ensconsed in Europe.

What is the underlying reality that creates the susceptibility to these and similar illusions?

The left psychologicially needs a conservative enemy who threatens to defeat liberalism. The right psychologically needs a conservative champion who promises to defeat liberalism. In reality, no such conservative leader exists today; in reality, there is nothing on the scene today that poses an immediate threat to the reign of liberalism. But both sides, for their own internal reasons, need to believe that the reign of liberalism is threatened, and so they believe it.

Daniel S. replies:

I would wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. The way liberals spend their every waking minute attacking and demonizing “conservatives” like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O’reilly as if they were some sort of real threat to the reign of liberalism. In turn, the bulk of self-described conservatives rally around these same figures as if they were the saviors of America who would, like a sort of modern Republican St. Patrick, drive the snakes of liberalism from our shores. The truth is that Palin, Beck, and the rest are not any sort of threat to the dominance of liberalism, because they are themselves infected with a mindset very much shaped by liberalism.

March 7

LA writes:

The big exception to the above, the sole prominent figure in the West who challenges liberalism in some eseential aspect, is Geert Wilders, who would end Muslim immigration and deport sharia believing Muslims. I can think of no other prominent figure who has taken that position.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 06, 2011 05:19 PM | Send

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