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Merkel’s minister proposes Islamic public holidays for Germany

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas De Maizière has proposed the introduction of Muslim public holidays in the country. “I am ready to discuss whether we can introduce a Muslim holiday.”

Published: October 13, 2017, 10:37 am

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    De Maizière spoke at the country’s ruling Christian Democratic Party’s (CDU) event in Lower-Saxony on Tuesday, where the German daily Berliner Morgenpost reported his comments.

    “I am ready to discuss whether we can introduce a Muslim holiday. It could very well be done,” said the Christian Democratic politician at a CDU party event.

    Muslim groups had earlier been calling for the recognition of Islamic holidays. Federal Minister Maizière said Islamic holidays could be observed in German regions with a strong Muslim presence.

    But his proposal about Muslim holidays has caused a huge uproar, also on the internet where most expressed their opposition to observing Islamic religious festivals.

    There are currently regions in Germany where [the Catholic festival of] All Saints’ Day is celebrated and in other regions where it isn’t, the Minister said. “Why can’t one consider [introducing] a Muslim holiday in places where there are many Muslims?” De Maizière asked.

    Introducing a Muslim holidays in German states or regions with a large Muslim population, would mean closing state government and municipal offices, along with all schools, shops and non-Muslim businesses.

    Native Germans and Christians are already a minority in many inner-city kindergartens and schools the country. In 2015, more than 33 percent of the children attending schools in Germany had “foreign roots,” the German Federal Statistical Office confirmed.

    These figures were noted before Chancellor Merkel threw open her country’s borders to illegal migrants.

    Bernd Althusmann, the CDU’s premier candidate in Lower Saxony, and from the same party as the Minister, criticized de Maiziere’s suggestion.

    “In Germany, public holidays have a long tradition, I don’t see any reason to change this now,” he told local media on Thursday.

    In 2013, Hamburg became Germany’s first city to recognize Islamic holidays, a move meant to encourage the integration of the religious group.

    Muslim employees and students are allowed days off to celebrate their holidays and Islamic classes in state schools allowed, authorities and Islamic groups said after negotiations lasting five years.

    Germany’s Muslim community have welcomed De Maiziere’s suggestion. Aiman Mazyek, who chairs the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said such a move would “enhance” the integration of Muslim migrants.

    Germany is home to nearly 4.7 million Muslims, who make up 5.7 percent of the population.

     

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