Germany’s biggest newspaper was forced into a climb down after it criticised Islam’s “criminality,” “murderous contempt” and “honour killings.”
“I don’t believe in God, but at the same time Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism don’t bother me. Only Islam bothers me more and more,” wrote Nicolaus Fest, vice editor-in-chief of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an opinion piece published on Sunday, according to The Local.
“I’m bothered by the considerably disproportionate criminality of youths from Muslim backgrounds. I’m bothered by Islam’s murderous contempt for women and homosexuals. I’m bothered by forced marriages, ‘justices of the peace,’ ‘honour killings,'” he wrote.
These cultural manifestations were making Islam “a barrier to integration.”
He also called for more deliberate policies when dealing with claims for asylum and visa applications to Germany. According to RT.com, Fest concluded by saying: “I don’t need any imported racism and I don’t need anything else Islam stands for.”
The opinion piece attracted thousands of angry online comments and criticism from German politicians who called the article “racist.” Politicians such as the Green party’s Volker Beck demanded an apology from the newspaper to German Muslims, who currently make up 4.3 million (over five per cent) of the country’s population.
On Sunday evening, Bild’s editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann wrote an online editorial rejecting Fest’s arguments because he had not drawn the line between Islam as a religion and the political beliefs of Islamism: “For Bild and Axel Springer [the newspaper group with owns Bild] there has been a clear, unshakeable dividing line between Islam as a world religion and the degrading ideology of Islamism.”
“That’s why in Bild and Axel Springer there is no room for generalized, depreciating comments against Islam and the people who believe in Allah. We don’t want such a debate along religious lines. We don’t want to lead it, take it up or conjure it. For they always end in disaster – history has shown that to us often enough.”
The Local noted that the debate comes in the wake of a number of anti-Semitic incidents by German Muslims during protests against Israel’s Gaza operation over the past weeks.