The German government has launched a 10-point plan laying out the nation’s “leading culture” for migrants, defending “patriots” and insisting Germany is “shaped by Christianity” and “is not the burqa”.
“Yes, we had problems with our patriotism”, wrote Thomas de Maizière, the Minister of the Interior, referring to Germany’s Nazi past. “All this is over, especially in the younger generation.”
On migration and integration, and in a veiled attack on Islam, he wrote: “We shake hands when we greet each other. In everyday life it’s important to us whether we’re looking into a friendly or a sad face.
“We’re an open society. We’re not burqa… Church holidays shape the rhythm of our years. Church towers characterise our landscape. Our country is Christian.
“We live in religious peace. And the basis for this is the absolute primacy of the law over all religious rules in the state and society,” he said, seemingly referring to violent jihadism and Sharia law.
The strong statement comes days after Germany’s parliament supported a partial burqa ban for women in the civil service, judiciary, and military. When UKIP made similar statements in the UK last week, they were derided as “racist”.
Mr. de Maizière’s defence of nationalism is controversial in Germany, where it has been a contentious, even dirty, concept in the post-war era.
“We remain part of the West, proud Europeans and enlightened patriots”, he said, defining a patriot as a person who “loves his country and does not hate others”, as well as defending the national flag and anthem as core parts of German identity.
A leading member of Germany’s populist AfD party made similar comments in January, calling for the country to stop atoning for its Nazi past and be proud of its history and culture. He was attacked by government ministers and was eventually expelled from the party.
Mr. de Maizière’s list of values for migrants in Germany to respect is comprehensive, including education and hard work, regional traditions and festivals, and a commitment to Europe.
“We are a cultural nation,” he wrote. “There is scarcely another country that is as shaped by culture and philosophy as Germany.
“Germany had a great influence on the cultural development of the whole world. Bach and Goethe ‘belong’ to the whole world and were Germans. We have our own understanding of the importance of culture in our society.”
Germany, particularly, was a country of regional affiliations, he continued: “Carnival, folk festivals. The roots in one’s home region, the market squares of our towns. The connection with places, smells, and traditions.
“Regional mentalities that everyone recognises by the sound of their speech, belong to us and mark our country.”