Fresh off the circuit from a visit to Paris, during which she marched alongside world leaders against the terrorism that took the lives of 17 people at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined a march in her own country organized by Muslim and Turkish community groups. The groups were calling for an even more “open and tolerant” Germany and to counter anti-Islam protests that have been taking the nation by storm.
Tuesday’s march saw approximately 10,000 people, which included religious leaders and political figureheads; that figure differing starkly with that of the 25,000-person anti-Islamization march that took place in Dresden the day before. On Monday, Merkel had said “Islam belongs [in] Germany” in a signal of clear repudiation against several anti-immigration marches, headed by Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) in Dresden and several other cities. Merkel is vocally opposed to PEGIDA and has accused of them having “hatred in their hearts.” Merkel reportedly said on Tuesday before the march that “hatred, racism and extremism have no place in this country… We are a country based on democracy, tolerance and openness to the world,” according to the AFP.
Tuesday’s rally commenced with a wreath-laying ceremony at the French Embassy in Berlin and an Imam reciting verses from the Quran condemning the taking of life, notes the AFP. The Turkish Community of Berlin had both condemned the “despicable terror attacks” in France and expressed their view that there is “no justification in Islam for such acts.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been pushing for entry into the EU for quite some time, however the EU recently said that Turkey’s values run counter to those of Europe’s; particularly in light of his constant criticism of Europe.
Meanwhile, the vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Abraham Lehrer, also spoke and reportedly said in his speech that in the French attacks, cartoonists were murdered because they stood up for free expression, police because they sought to protect them, and Jews simply “because they were Jews,” the AFP wrote.
Yet, not everyone agreed with Merkel’s view that Islam is an integral part of Germany and its culture. Her former minister of the interior Hans-Peter Friedrich remarked that while Muslims “belong in our society,” Germany’s identity “is a Christian identity built on Judeo-Christian roots.”
Furthermore, Chairman of the Central Council for Muslims Aiman Mayzek expressed his organization’s solidarity with the French people over the Paris terrorism attacks, saying “the terrorists did not win and terrorists won’t win in future.” That sentiment was not shared globally.
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