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efms Migration Report

February 2006

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Danish Muhammad cartoons unleash Muslim protests worldwide

On 30 September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons showing the prophet Muhammad, which were felt by many Muslims as an insult to Islam. In winter 2005, Danish Imams travelled to several Arab countries to show the cartoons to high-ranking representatives of the Arab League and Muslim clerics as part of an dossier about "growing racism in Denmark". The protests at first evolving in Denmark subsequently turned into mass demonstrations spreading the entire Islamic world. Besides the Danish flag also those of other European countries were burned, threats against western countries were scanned, an office of the EU in Gaza as well as the Danish and the Austrian embassy in Teheran were attacked, and several demonstrators in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Somalia were killed as a result of the turmoils. Islamic countries called for a boycott of Danish products, Iran stopped its trade relations with Denmark and Saudi Arabia and Libya recalled their ambassadors from Copenhagen. Many European newspapers reprinted the cartoons in order to set an example in defense of the press freedom. The EU rejected the threats against Danish, Norwegian and Swedish nationals and the boycott of products as being an attack against Europe. EU interior and justice commissioner Franco Frattini said that he would understand the feelings of the Muslim community, but added at the same time that violence, acts of intimidation and call for boycotts would be completely unacceptable. Even the press freedom would not have to curtailed, he added. Politicians all over the world - including UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the German Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel - pleaded for the case of non-aggression. In Germany, 16 Islamic associations, including the Islamic Council, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (DITIB), condemned the "violent and inappropriate reactions of some Muslims" in a common resolution published on 8 February 2006. At the same time, however, they made clear that "an intentional offending of religious feelings and beliefs were definitively to be rejected". On 11 February 2006, several thousands of Muslims gathered at peaceful demonstrations against the cartoons in the cities of Düsseldorf, Berlin, Bonn and Leer, at the occasion of which they complained about a discrimination of their religion in Europe.
SZ 02.02.06 // FAZ 02.02.06 // BZ 02.02.06 // SZ 03.02.06 // FAZ 03.02.06 // SZ 04.02.06 // FAZ 07.02.06 // SZ 07.02.06 // Die Welt 08.02.06 // FAZ 09.02.06 // Welt am Sonntag 12.02.06

Bilateral readmission agreement signed with Bulgaria

On 1 February 2006, federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and his Bulgarian counterpart, Petkov, signed a bilateral readmission agreement which is to replace the previous agreements that had entered into force on 9 September 1994 (readmission of Bulgarian nationals) and on 7 November 1996 (transit of third-country nationals). In future, the new readmission agreement will allow to return to Bulgaria persons - both Bulgarian nationals and third-country nationals - who have illegally entered Germany proceeding from this country. Schäuble said that the provisions on the readmission of third-country nationals and of stateless persons had not been included in the previous agreements and would highly contribute to the fight against illegal migration from the Balkans. Moreover, the existing agreements have been updated and brought in line with the standards of the European Union.
Press release BMI of 01.02.06

UN: German school system discriminates migrant children

On 13 February 2006, UN special envoy Vernon Munoz Villalobos started his 10-day visit to Germany on behalf of the UN Human Rights Commission to inspect day-care facilities for children, schools and NGOs inter alia in the cities of Munich, Bonn, Berlin and Potsdam. He was to check, if and how the right to education is implemented in Germany. Special attention was given also to the support offered to migrant children. In his final conclusion he criticised that the German education system would not take into consideration the children"s potentials. As countermeasures to be taken for the time being, he recommended that the German federal government should give up its reservation towards the UN Children"s Rights Convention. As a result, also refugees not possessing permanent residence titles could attend schools until the age of 18 instead of 16 as they do currently. Secondly, the attendance of kindergartens would have to be free of charge. This would be particularly important to foster the language skills of migrant children. Thirdly, teaching human rights principles at school classes and as a part of further training measures for teachers should be emphasised. Finally, a definite decision on which school type the pupils will have to attend should not be taken at a stage as early as the end of primary school. This would in particular have a negative impact on children of migrant families and socially disadvantaged families.
SZ 14.02.06 // taz 15.02.06 // SZ 17.01.06 // taz 18.02.06 // Der Spiegel(online) 21.02.06 // SZ 22.02.06

Debate on naturalisations remains controversial

Following a conference in Koblenz, the interior ministers of the federal states belonging to the CDU/CSU parties made a call for stricter naturalisation requirements and demanded that naturalisation applicants should be obliged to attend compulsory civics courses, to take language tests in writing, to take an oath on the constitution and to provide evidence of their commitment to the free democratic basis order by proving "objectively checkable community-compatible behaviours" in case the authorities have doubts about the seriousness of their attitudes. The federal states of Lower Saxony and Hesse have announced to present the corresponding bills for a federally uniform legislation by May, when the conference of the interior ministers will be held. The Left Party, the Greens, the interior minister and the integration minister of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ingo Wolf (FDP) and Armin Laschet (CDU), rejected the resolution as unnecessary, arguing that the provisions already in force, requiring a residence of many years, a regular cross-checking with the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a declaration of commitment and a language test to be taken would be sufficient. Should a common approach of Federal government and the federal states not be found by the end of 2006, Bavaria wants to agree common standards with the federal states of Hesse and Baden-Württemberg only. The procedure in Bavaria will be tightened as of March 2006 already. According to the new provisions, naturalisation applicants will have to state in a questionnaire, if they are members or supporters of associations, parties and organisations in Germany or abroad which are considered "critical". Among the parties listed is also the left-wing PDS. Members of left-wing parties have become indignant about this listing. The federal state of Hesse is planning the introduction of a "naturalisation guide" similar to the one used in Baden-Württemberg. On 11 February 2006, several hundreds of demonstrators protested against this "naturalisation guide". On the occasion of the demonstration, the Lord Mayor of Heidelberg, Beate Weber (SPD), said she would further be opposed against the provision for doubts as whether it was in accordance with the constitution. Since the provision has the status of an administrative ordinance of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, the city of Heidelberg had to give up its initial opposition at the beginning of February and had yet to employ the disputed "interview guide".
Press release of the Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg 31.01.06 // BZ 01.02.06 // dpa 01.02.06 // Die Welt 02.02.06 // SZ 04.02.06 // FR 04.02.06 // BZ 06.02.06 // FR 06.02.06 // taz (online) 06.02.06 // BZ 06.02.06 // SZ 06.02.06 // SZ 07.02.06 // FAZ 09.02.06 // Der Spiegel (online) 12.02.06 // NN 13.02.06 // Der Spiegel (online) 15.02.06 // NN 17.02.06

Initiative of the Bundesrat calls for stricter punishment of forced marriages

On 10 February 2006, the Bundesrat (Upper House of the German Parliament) adopted a bill to introduce to the legislation forced marriage as a new criminal offence, which will allow to punish forced marriages by prison terms ranging from six months to ten years. Moreover, the request period for annulling a marriage which was entered into under illegal threat will be extended from one to three years. As regards the claim for maintenance of the forced spouse in case of an annulment of the marriage, it will be no longer relevant if the threat was directly pronounced by the spouse or if he/she had knowledge of such threat only. In addition, the statutory right of the surviving spouse to a share in the estate will be no longer applicable, if the surviving spouse had knowledge of the voidability of the marriage for having been a force marriage, even if the legal annulment proceeding has not been opened. The bill will be handed over to the Federal government to comment it. The political echo was divided: The integration commissioner of the Federal government, Maria Böhmer (CDU) as well as the women"s rights organisation Terre des Femmes (Tdf) welcomed the initiative as a step towards the right direction. At the same time, however, both Tdf as well as the spokeswomen for feminist affairs of SPD"s parliamentary group, Christel Humme, missed the introduction of improvements of the residence status for affected women, which showed an "enormous deficiency", according to Tdf.
Press release of the Bundesrat 13/2006 10.02.06 // Press release of the Federal government for migration, refugees and integration 10.02.06 // Pforzheimer Zeitung (online) 10.02.06 // Das Parlament 13.02.06 // FR 20.02.06

Forced marriages: Debate on lack of scientific approach

The issue of forced marriages among Turkish immigrants has triggered off a scientific dispute. On 2 February 2006, the weekly "Die Zeit" published a statement of Prof. Yasemin Karakasoglu and Mark Terkessidis who accused the female authors of currently in vogue non-fiction books on Islam of having written flaming pamphlets which would puff up to seemingly societal issues personal experiences and individual cases. The books of Necla Kelek ("Die fremde Braut" - The unknown bride), Ayyan Hirsi Ali ("Ich klage an" - I do accuse) and Seyran Ates ("Große Reise ins Feuer" - The big journey into the fire) would be unscientific, and facts and findings would be hardly given any importance. In contrast, differentiated scientific investigations would be hardly paid any attention, which was to be considered alarming. The open letter titled "Justice for the Muslims!" was signed by 58 scientists, comprising many migration experts. In several important German newspapers Kelek defended herself, arguing that the issues she had addressed would not fit into the ideological concept of the multi-culturalism of the scientists criticising her, and added that they would have accepted the taboo in question and would let happen the misery of those affected.
Die Zeit 02.02.06 // SZ 03.02.06 // taz 03.02.06 // Die Welt 08.02.06 // Die Zeit 09.02.06 // FAZ (online) 24.02.06

Different views of compulsory use of German at schools

The local CDU/FDP government in Stuttgart wants to impose the compulsory use of German at all schools in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The prime minister of the local government, Oettinger, wants to hold a round table talk to discuss possible amendments of the school regulations applicable at all schools. In contrast, the CDU government of the federal state of Hesse favours agreements on a voluntary basis. For that purpose, the local government could provide schools with a standard agreement to be signed, said the head of the CDU parliamentary group, Christian Wagner. In Nuremberg (Bavaria), the parliamentary group of the CSU in the municipal council wants to launch a pilot project in which is foreseen to impose the compulsory use of German at one selected school having a high proportion of foreign pupils.
NZ 02.02.06 // taz 02.02.06 // FR 11.02.06 // NN 23.02.06 // NZ 24.02.06

Islamic instruction classes soon be possible in Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg

Following the example set in Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein too wants to introduce as of 2007 Islamic instruction classes in German language at primary schools. Also the mayor of Hamburg, Ole von Beust (CDU), is in favour of the introduction of Islamic instruction classes taught in German. The chairman of the largest association of Muslims in Hamburg ("Schura"), Mustafa Yoldas, however, raised objections, arguing that the Muslims would be quite satisfied with the inter-confessional religious instruction classes being offered currently at state-run schools and added that this kind of instruction classes should not be given up for the sake of a trial whose outcome is unclear. Opposition against the plans is also growing within the CDU with voices demanding that the proposal needed to be submitted to a detailed revision in terms of its contents.
Die Welt 02.02.06 // Die Welt (online) 22.02.06 // Hamburger Abendblatt (online) 24.02.06 // Hamburger Abendblatt (online) 25.02.06

Discussions about the Turkish movie "Valley of the Wolves - Iraq"

The movie "Valley of the Wolves - Iraq" - one of the most costly Turkish film productions ever - so far has attracted more than 200,000 spectators in Germany, most of them of Turkish origin. The film is about a Turkish secret service agent who fights against Americans in Iraq, whose protagonist is a US commander-in-chief of Christian belief. Politicians of the Union parties such as the prime minister of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber (CSU), the chairman of the Greens, Reinhard Bütikofer, and the Churches have asked the operators of cinemas to ban this film for its glorification of violence and its anti-Semitic contents. Politicians of the liberals and the chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, are opposed against such ban, arguing that a democracy needed be able to accept also films that are not welcome. Moreover, calls for a ban or suspension of the film would contribute even more to an identification with the movie, said Kolat.
FR 22.02.06 // Die Welt 22.02.06

New commissioner of the Federal government for ethnic German repatriates

On 14 February 2006, Dr. Christoph Berger (CDU) - who has been parliamentary undersecretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior since 23 November 2005 - has been installed in his new office as commissioner of the Federal government for ethnic German repatriates" and national minority affairs. Before, Hans-Peter Kemper (SPD) had been the office-bearer.
Press release Federal Ministry of the Interior 14.02.06 //

New chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany

On 5 February 2006, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany ("ZMD" in its German abbreviation) elected a new committee. Ayyub Axel Köhler was elected new chairman. The 67-year-old replaces the former secretary general, Nadeem Elyas. Elyas, who had been chairman since the foundation of the Central Council in 1994, did no longer want to stand as a candidate in the election.
Press release of ZMD 05.02.06 // Welt am Sonntag 05.02.06 // SZ 07.02.06

ECJ: Association agreement applicable to Turkish migrant workers" children who were convicted of a criminal offence

After the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the latter decided on 16 February 2006 that Turkish migrant workers" children who have been convicted of a criminal offence can invoke the provisions of the association agreement between the European Union and Turkey even after having reached age of majority. This means that they enjoy as a rule the same protection against deportation as EU citizens. They might deported only in case of posing a threat to the public order, security and health or if they have left Germany for a significant length of time without legitimate reason. But even in such case, the courts may not in general invoke a threat or high recidivism rate, but have to take into consideration the individual outlooks of the offender (Ref.: C-502/04).
Judgement of ECJ of 16 February 2006 // SZ 17.02.06

Increase of right-wing extremist violence in 2005

The Federal government registered a significant increase of right-wing extremist offences in 2005. According to the replies to the monthly inquiries made by the member of the Federal parliament, Petra Pau (Left Party), the number of acts of violence had increased from 498 in 2004 to 588 in 2005. In total, 10,271 offences with a right-wing extremist background were registered (+23 per cent). Also the advisory centres for victims of right-wing extremist violence registered 10 per cent more offences in 2005: The total of 641 acts of violence, ranging widely in terms of intensity, affected at least 910 persons. Almost 90 per cent consisted of assaults with intent to do bodily injury. In 300 cases, violence was aimed against youths from the left-wing and alternative scenes. 182 cases were motivated by racism.
FR 14.02.06

Asylum statistics

In February 2006, a total of 1,779 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 9.6 per cent (-190 persons) compared to January 2006. Compared to February 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 15.3 per cent (-322 persons). The main countries of origin in February 2006 were Serbia and Montenegro (298), Turkey (168) and Iraq (149) followed by the Russian Federation (87) and Vietnam (86). The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the applications of 2,835 asylum seekers, 21 (0.7 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 60 persons (2.1 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,729 persons (61.0 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 1,025 persons (36.2 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because asylum seekers have withdrawn their applications.
Press release BMI of 08.03.06

February 2006

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