In 2010 former German President Christian Wulff made the assertion that, “Islam belongs in Germany,” provoking something of a conservative backlash. Now, Germany’s Central Council of Muslims (ZMD) is bringing the topic back into the public eye — and suggesting the introduction of statutory Muslim holidays throughout Germany.
Council chairman Aiman Mazyek told the Thursday edition of the regional dailyWestdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) that granting one day during the holy month of Ramadan and another on the fast-breaking day of Eid would be “an important sign of integration” and “would emphasize tolerance in our society.”
These holidays would not be work-free days for all citizens, specified Mazyek, but rather would serve to give Muslims the legal right not to work on these days. He added that Muslims in public services such as police could stand in for colleagues over Christian holidays like Easter.
The legal recognition of Islam has been a controversial issue in Germany, home to a population of 4 million Muslims which it has been accused of not doing enough to integrate. Public unease with this growing population came to the fore in 2010 when a book by former German central bank board member Thilo Sarrazin, in which he accused Muslims of sponging off welfare and refusing to integrate, was a huge commercial success.
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