Christian Democratic Union party leader stirs controversy following racial remarks; says 'we don’t need additional immigrants from 'foreign cultures'
BERLIN – A German official on Saturday called to stop Muslim immigration into the country, stirring public controversy.
Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Democratic Union Party (CSU), which is a member of the coalition government in Germany, said in an interview to Focus magazine, "It is obvious that immigrants from Turkey and Arab countries face more difficulty integrating into German society than other immigrants."
"In any case," Seehofer added," the conclusion is that we don’t need additional immigrants from 'foreign cultures'."
The German politician's remarks rekindled an already heated public discussion over the question of the Muslim minority's integration in Germany.
During the interview, Seehofer also argued that unemployment benefits should be revoked from immigrants who do not seek employment, arguing that immigrants should be forced to share the basic values of Germany, and have command of the language.
Seehofer's remarks come after German President Christian Wulff's speech on the 20th anniversary to the unification of Germany.
Wulff, whose speech carried a particularly reconciliatory tone, said that Islam constituted a part of Germany's nature, just as Judaism and Christianity have in the past, and will continue to be a part of the nation in the future.
The speech triggered mixed reactions, as Muslim community leaders lauded it, while Christian-rightist elements, including Seehofer, issued fierce criticism.
"I do not understand how the role Christianity has played in Germany can be compared to that of Islam," Seehofer noted during the interview.
According to the conservative politician, tolerance and openness to other religions, as cemented in the German constitution, do not grant these religions direct influence over the country's core values.
Seehofer's remarks angered politicians from across Germany's political spectrum, leading some politicians to dub him a "radical-rightist populist."
The heated debate in German society centers on the integration of nearly three million Muslim immigrants living in the country today – a majority of them of Turkish descent.
The public debate was set in motion by Thilo Sarrazin, a former banker who published a book in which he slammed the Muslim immigration in the country, claiming it led to a drop in Germany's intellectual capacity and has diminished it's cultural assets.
Sarrazin was dismissed from his post at the Bundesbank following the publication of his book, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is expected to become Germany's largest best-seller since the end of the Second World War.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -