Despite being monitored, Deso Dogg crossed into Syria undetected in 2013, and gave his oath of allegiance to the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS] in early 2014. According to many media sources, he was reportedly killed by a rival al-Nusra suicide bomber in eastern Syria. Reports of his death, however, have not been independently confirmed, and ISIS fighters interviewed by the German newspaper Die Welt have denied he is dead.
A new survey published on April 29 shows that only half of the German population believes that Islam is a part of German culture and society. The Integration Barometer 2014, produced by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, found that 44% of those with an immigrant background and 53% without a migration background rejected the statement: “Islam is part of Germany.” About half of the respondents, both with and without a migration background, nevertheless advocated religious instruction in schools. About two-thirds believe Islamic theology should be offered at universities.
The situation is different when it comes to making exceptions for individual Muslims, such as exemptions from sports or swimming lessons because of religious sensitivities. A clear majority, 76% of those without a migration background, viewed such special privileges in a negative light. In addition, 63% of those without a migration background rejected the right of Muslim teachers to wear headscarves in class. “The majority of respondents obviously believe that equality and religious neutrality are more important than the granting of special treatment on religious grounds,” the study concludes.
On April 22, the Bavarian Administrative Court in Munich ruled that an 18-year-old Muslim student does not have the constitutional right to wear a face-covering niqab in class at her state-run vocational college. The court said that her school had done nothing illegal in asking her to remove the veil, and that this prohibition did not infringe on her freedom of religious worship.
The court also said that the veil acted as a barrier for non-verbal communication. “Open communication during teaching is based not only on the spoken word, but also on non-verbal elements such as facial expressions, gestures and other body language,” the court said.
Meanwhile, a German-Turkish candidate for city council elections in the town of Neuss near Düsseldorf provoked the ire of many Germans when he added the Islamic crescent-moon to the logo of his party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union. The Islamized logo appeared on promotional campaign products such as pens, stickers and 4,000 bags.
Irritated CDU officials ordered Yasar Calik, 37, to cease and desist. He responded by accusing them of intolerance. Calik said many Turks are skeptical of the CDU and that he wants Muslims to know they can vote for the party, which some have dubbed the “Islamic Democratic Union.”
In Greece, controversial plans to build a taxpayer-funded mega-mosque in Athens have been delayed once again after a group of concerned citizens filed an appeal to block the €950,000 ($1.3 million) project. The government had agreed in November 2013 to build a mosque at the site of a former naval base in Votanikos, near central Athens.
Aris Spiliotopoulos, a candidate for the mayor of Athens for the center-right New Democracy party, called for a referendum on the construction of the mosque. In an April 16 interview with Skai TV, Spiliotopoulos, a former education and tourism minister, criticized plans to build a Muslim place of worship in the heart of Athens, saying that the capital does not need “another pole for illegal immigration” or “third-world tents under the sacred rock of the Acropolis.” Votanikos is located 3km from the Acropolis. Spiliotopoulos said: “I don’t want the mosque next to the Parthenon.”