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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘merkel’

Peres to Award Merkel for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

President Shimon Peres will confer the Presidential Medal of Distinction on German Chancellor Angela Merkel next Tuesday for “her unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and the fight against anti-Semitism.” His office stated Thursday,

The medal, the highest civilian award in Israel and comparable to the Legion of Honor of France and the Order of Canada, is crowned with the words from Samuel 9:2 “from his shoulders and upward.”

Merkel’s visit to Israel will be focused on issues of the Palestinian Authority, Iran and German-Israeli relations.

Peres stated that “Merkel sets a wonderful example on education against anti-Semitism, racism and hate and works tirelessly to expand the work being done on these issues with the aim of educating future generations in Germany towards equality, tolerance and acceptance of the other.”

Previous winners of the award have included President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton, Elie Wiesel, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

The Unpredicted Consequences of the German Elections

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The German elections had two important consequences, one predicted, the other one unpredicted. As expected, the number of Islamic members of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, has increased.

The Christian-Democrat CDU of Chancellor Angela Merkel now has its first Muslim parliamentarian. Cemile Giousouf, the 35-year old daughter of a Turkish immigrant, was elected in Hagen, a city in the industrial Ruhr area with a foreign population of 40%.

Germany has 800,000 Turkish voters. The Turks make up the largest ethnic group within Germany’s Muslim population of some 4 million people, Previously, the Turks had five parliamentarians out of 630 Bundestag members; in the 22 September general elections, this number more than doubled to eleven. Ten of them belong to the left or far-left – five are members of the Social-Democrat SPD, three of the Green Party, and two of the Communist Die Linke (Left Party) — and one is with the center-right CDU.

The number of Bundestag members with an immigrant background rose from 21 to 34, with Die Linke having the highest percentage of immigrant politicians in their ranks followed by the Greens.

Ms. Giousouf’s Islamic convictions — her “religious otherness” as she calls it — did not pose problems for a party that claims to be founded on Christian-Democrat principles. Her candidacy was challenged, however, by another female candidate on grounds of seniority. Despite the other candidate having been active in the party for three decades, the CDU leadership preferred to give the prominent position on the party list to Giousouf because of her ethnic background. Ms. Giousouf defended this decision by stating, “If we immigrants are forced to put up campaign posters for the next 30 years, there won’t be any [immigrant] representatives in the Bundestag.”

For the first time, two black candidates were elected in the Bundestag. One of them, Charles Muhamed Huber, for Merkel’s CDU, the other, Karamba Diaby, for the Social-Democrat SPD. Both Mr Huber and Mr Diaby are of Senegalese origin.

While the international media devoted relatively little attention to Mr. Huber — despite his self-declared sympathy for the American Black Panther movement — there was huge interest in Mr Diaby, who was born in 1961 in the Muslim village of Masassoum. Through his political activities at Dakar University in the early 1980s, he came into contact with a Communist organization. In 1985, he was given a scholarship to study in Communist East Germany, where he subsequently settled.

Mr Diaby joined the SPD and became the national chairman of Gemany’s Immigration and Integration Council (Bundeszuwanderungs-und Integrationsrat). Two years ago, he gained prominence when he advocated the imprisonment of Thilo Sarrazin, a fellow SPD politician and a former member of the Executive Board of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank. Mr. Sarrazin had authored a book, Deutschland schafft sich ab [Germany Abolishes Itself], in which he said that Islamic immigration is threatening Germany’s prosperity and freedom. Mr. Sarrazin argued that most Islamic immigrants are unwilling to integrate and tend to rely more on welfare benefits than do other immigrant groups.

Turkish and Islamic organizations accused Sarrazin of “racism,” but were unable to get him sentenced in court. The SPD leadership twice attempted to throw Mr. Sarrazin out of the party, but both attempts were unsuccessful. Polls indicated that Sarrazin was backed by an overwhelming majority of the Germans, including SPD members. Mr. Diaby petitioned the Bundestag, demanding that German criminal law be changed to ensure that statements such as those made in Sarrazin’s book would be punishable with a prison sentence. The German lawmakers, however, failed to do so. The SPD leadership subsequently gave Mr. Diaby a prominent place on its electoral list, which enabled him to be elected as a lawmaker, so that he is now in a position to try to change German laws from within the parliament.

While the growth of Islamic influence within the German political system, including the Christian-Democrat Party, was predicted, an unpredicted consequence of the September 22 general elections was the Bundestag’s swing to the left, despite the electorate’s swing to the right. This is the result of the German electoral system with its 5% electoral threshold.

The biggest winners of the elections were Chancellor Merkel’s center-right Christian-Democrats. They won 41.5% of the vote — far better than in the 2009 general elections, when they had 33.7%.

The biggest losers were the Liberals. The German Liberal Party FDP, which is economically to the right of Merkel’s CDU, fell from 14.6% in 2009 to 4.8%. The electorate punished the FDP, which had promised its voters tax cuts but, despite forming a government coalition with Ms. Merkel, failed to deliver on this promise.

Although the FDP won over 2 million of the 43.7 million votes, as the party was unable to make the 5% hurdle, and as a result it did not get a single parliamentary seat. The same applied to the conservative Alternative fuer Deutschland party (AfD), a newly established party, critical of the euro. AfD won 4.7% of the vote, an unexpectedly high result for a new party, but not a single representative. The far-right NPD won 1.3%. Taken together, 10.8% of the electorate voted for a party to the right of Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, but not a single parliamentarian to Merkel’s right got elected.

Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, the FDP, AfD and NPD combined won 52.3% of the vote (51%, excluding the far-right NPD). However, in the Bundestag the parties of the Left — SPD, Greens and the Communists of Die Linke – hold 50.7% of the seats.

That the FDP fell just below the electoral threshold deprives Merkel of the possibility to form a center-right coalition. Theoretically, the left is able to form a coalition with the far-left, but as the SPD had ruled out governing with Die Linke, Germany is left with just two choices: Either a coalition of Merkel with the leftist Greens, or a so-called “grand coalition” of the CDU with the center-left SPD.

In any event, Germany’s new coalition will be to the left of the previous CDU-FDP coalition, while the voters had clearly indicated that they wanted Germany to turn to the right. The future looks promising, however, for AfD. Never before has a party that was established barely a few months before, done so well in the elections. And given that Merkel will be forced to move to the left, the prospect of disenchanted conservative Christian-Democrats flocking to AfD are huge. There is little doubt that AfD will gain seats in the European Parliament in next year’s European elections. If the AfD leadership manages to avoid internal quarrels, in 2017 the party will likely enter the Bundestag.

Islamist Bullying Works: Germany Considering a Ban on Showing of Anti-Muslim Film

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Freedom of expression has been a basic right in much of Germany since the spring of 1945, but the controversy over the film “Innocence of Muslims” may end up with that right being curbed once again.

Der Spigel reports that a group called Pro Deutschland is planning to stage a public showing of the anti-Islam film, which has been the focus of huge protests and violent attacks on American and Western diplomatic missions across the Muslim world over the past week. Pro Deutschland, which only numbers a few hundred members, appears to be putting Chancellor Angela Merkel on the spot, having to choose between civil rights and public order.

Merkel was asked at a press conference on Monday what she thought about the plan to show the film publicly, and she answered that a ban could be justified for the sake of public security. “I can imagine that there are good reasons for this,” she said, referring to a proposed ban on the showing, adding that a ban was being considered by her government.

The chancellor, with a long record of promoting freedom of expression and of the press, is in a bind here. Two years ago she praised Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard for his courage in publishing caricatures that caused riots in the Muslim world. Westergaard himself survived an attempt on his life for his cartoon, which showed the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb for a turban.

By law, Merkel cannot ban “Innocence of Muslims” outright. But given the potential violence that could result from showing the work, she may want to prevent it for now.

There is a legal foundation for this kind of censorship in German criminal law, which states that anyone who publicly “insults the content of religious or ideological views in a manner likely to disturb the public order, will be penalized by up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine.”

In 2006, the Lüdinghausen district court in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia gave a one-year suspended sentence to a pensioner who had stamped toilet paper with the phrase “The Koran, the Holy Koran” and sent it to 22 German mosques and Muslim community centers. The court ruled that this action was not protected by freedom of expression because they constituted a disturbance of the public order.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger this week called for a legal analysis of the situation.

Westerwelle told public radio station Deutschlandfunk that, after all, Germany wants to send the signal that “we remain a tolerant country.”

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the legality of a showing of the provocative film must be examined “for example from the perspective of the right to assemble if security and order are endangered.”

But the justice minister at the same time doubted that a national ban would work in this case, saying it would have “only a limited effect.”

Head of the Green Party’s parliamentary faction Renate Künast told the ZDF radio station that she, too, objected to a ban. Freedom of expression is a cherished value, she said. “We won’t simply throw that away. Our democracy will hold out even if a few crazy people make difficult videos.”

Künast urged people to legally protest the public showing.

In an interview with Der Spiegel this week, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, whose ministry would be the arm of government issuing the ban, said Pro Deutschland was intentionally provoking Islamists. “By doing so, they are recklessly pouring oil on the fire,” he said. “We must use all legally sanctioned courses of action to stop them.”

Aiman Mazyek, head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims, has called for an outright ban, warning on ARD station that a failure to do so could result in street battles between extremists on both sides of the issue.

Naturally, in such instances, the difference between a warning and a veiled threat are marginal.

But the Liberal Islamic Association (LIB) took a position against a ban. “The more discussion there is about a ban, encouraging a taboo on such content, the greater the damage that is done,” LIB head Lamya Kaddor told the daily Die Tageszeitung. This would only serve to further stoke anti-Islam sentiments that already exist in Germany, Kaddor added.

Obama Discusses Leaders He Considers Friends

Friday, February 10th, 2012

In an interview with Time Magazine, US President Barack Obama listed those foreign leaders that he considers friends and have helped him implement diplomatic initiatives.

“The friendships and the bonds of trust that I’ve been able to forge with a whole range of leaders is precisely, or is a big part of, what has allowed us to execute effective diplomacy,” said Obama.

The list included Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not mentioned.

“I think that if you ask them, Angela Merkel or Prime Minister Singh or President Lee or Prime Minister Erdogan or David Cameron would say, ‘We have a lot of trust and confidence in the President. We believe what he says. We believe that he’ll follow through on his commitments. We think he’s paying attention to our concerns and our interests,’” Obama added.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-discusses-leaders-he-considers-friends/2012/02/10/

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