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efms Migration Report

November 2004

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Islamist murder in the Netherlands sparks integration debate in Germany

Following the Islamist murder of the Dutch film-maker and Islam critic Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam on 2nd November 2004, the Dutch government has called the national approach to integration policy into question. In Germany, the crime has sparked a controversial debate on the integration of foreign residents. Helmut Schmidt (SPD), the former German chancellor, as well as representatives of the opposition CDU/CSU parties, have declared that the concept of a multicultural society has "failed". CDU/CSU politicians have also called on Muslim residents of Germany to respect the German constitution and its free and democratic "Leitkultur" (German cultural identity or core values). Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber (CSU) has demanded that it should be obligatory for foreign nationals applying for naturalisation to take an oath on the German constitution. Representatives of the red-green government coalition, on the other hand, have rejected these demands, expressing their support "for a multicultural society based on democratic values". Their views are also supported by the opposition PDS and FDP parties. Representatives of the FDP have warned against all insinuations alleging that migrants are unwilling to integrate. Two other proposals have also been roundly rejected: Firstly, a demand by the Green MP Hans-Christian Ströbele to introduce a Muslim public holiday and, in return, to abolish a Christian one; secondly, a proposal by CDU politician Annette Schavan to make the German language mandatory for all sermons in mosques. Nevertheless, all political parties represented in the federal parliament agree on the significance of language as a key to integration and on the necessity of putting Muslim religious practice in Germany under tighter control. In a parliamentary motion entitled "Living together on the basis of shared core values" (Parliamentary printing matter 15/4394), the governing coalition calls on both the federal and state governments to open up the public employment sector for migrants, set up university chairs for Islamic religious studies and offer Islamic religious instruction in the German language at schools.
Die Welt 04.11.04 / /Handelsblatt 05.11.04 // FTD 05.11.04 // FAZ 09.11.04 // BZ 10.11.04 // Handelsblatt 11.11.04 // Der Spiegel 16.11.04 // SZ 16.11.04 // FTD 16.11.04 // Die Welt 17.11.04 // // FAZ 19.11.04 // FR 19.11.04 // Welt am Sonntag 21.11.04 // Berliner Zeitung 22.11.04 // Die Welt 23.11.04 // Hamburger Abendblatt 24.11.04 // NN 24.11.2004 // Berliner Zeitung 26.11.04 // Die Welt 26.11.04 // Die Welt 30.11.04 // SZ 30.11.04 // FR 30.11.04

Immigration Act: Hamburg sets up commission for hardship cases

In accordance with the new immigration act, the state of Hamburg has decided to set up a commission for hardship cases. However, the governing CDU party has so far been unable to reach a consensus with the opposition SPD and GAL (Green Alternative List) parties on the composition of such a commission. Whereas the opposition parties have suggested that politicians should be excluded and that a new panel should be formed consisting of experts from universities, charitable organisations, refugee groups and religious organisations, the governing CDU has demanded that the already existing "petition committee", a parliamentary committee which, among other things, functions as the highest instance in appeals against impending deportations, should adopt this new responsibility.
taz 04.11.04 // Hamburgische Morgenpost 05.11.04

Expert Panel for Migration and Integration: funds have been withdrawn completely for 2005

The budgetary committee of the federal parliament has passed a decision across party lines to completely withdraw all funds, both for personnel and material, which were to be allocated to the Expert Panel on Migration and Integration headed by Rita Süssmuth (CDU). MPs of the SPD and the Greens have thus carried a motion introduced by the opposition CDU/CSU parties. Committee members have justified their decision by pointing out that the expert panel had been part of the original bill for a new immigration act, but later been struck from the bill during the legislative process. Furthermore, as original plans to introduce a points system for allowing labour immigration have also been abandoned, the expert panel will not assume the ensuing responsibility for setting immigration quotas. However, one member of the parliamentary committee has expressed a dissenting opinion. In his view, the committee vote constitutes a crude punishment for the recommendations that the expert panel has made in its first annual report, which politicians had found fault with. Meanwhile, the members of the expert panel have stated that they will continue to work on a honorary basis for the time being.
FR 13.11.04 // FAZ 19.11.04

No expanded residency rights for refugees

Representatives of the red-green government coalition, together with an alliance of churches, charitable organisations and trade unions, have demanded that refugees who have been residents of Germany for more than five years should be granted a permanent residence title, criticising respective regulations in the new immigration act as unsatisfactory. However, a similar appeal by Marieluise Beck (Greens), the federal government commissioner for integration, and Stefan Berglund, the representative of the UNHCR in Germany, has already been rejected by the German conference of state interior ministers. On the contrary, refugee organisations have reported an increasing number of deportations and requests for "church asylum", one month before the regulations of the new immigration act for hardship cases take effect. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is currently reviewing the residence status of 4,500 out of the 80,000 refugees from Iraq that have taken residence in Germany, stating that after the end of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein political persecution in Iraq can no longer be taken for granted. Repeal procedures have been introduced for refugees that have been convicted of a crime, are considered to be a security risk, have made false statements about their identity, have returned to their home country repeatedly or submitted a petition for family reunification. However, not all the cases currently reviewed fulfil one of these criteria. Iraqi nationals whose refugee passport is withdrawn will be granted a so-called "toleration certificate", due to the continuing explosive situation in Iraq.
NN 05.11.04 // Berliner Zeitung 10.11.04 // taz 11.11.04 // Presseerklärung UNHCR Genf 18.11.04 // Pressemitteilung Integrationsbeauftragte 18.11.2004 // NN 25.11.04 // taz 27.11.04

Muslim demonstration in Cologne: "Together for peace and against terror"

On 21st November 2004, about 30,000 Muslim residents from all over Germany took part in a demonstration in Cologne entitled "Together for peace and against terror". The demonstrators, most of them men, had followed an appeal by the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (DITIB). They were waving mainly Turkish flags and were chanting in Turkish "Hand in hand against terror". Several German politicians, such as Günther Beckstein (CSU), Fritz Behrens (SPD), Claudia Rot (Greens) and Marieluise Beck (Greens), the federal government commissioner for integration, have also participated in the demonstration.
NZ 11.11.04 // taz 20.11.04 // Die Welt 22.10.04

Headscarf ban in Bavaria

On 11th November 2004, Bavaria was the fifth among German states to pass a law banning Muslim teachers from wearing a headscarf during classes. Proponents of the law have stated that headscarves have been massively abused for political purposes and that pupils have to be protected against the influence of religious fundamentalists. The law bans teachers from displaying religious symbols or wearing pieces of clothing "that could be interpreted as an expression of attitudes or opinions contradicting constitutional values and educational goals." Even though representatives of the governing CSU party have stated that the law will not apply to headgear worn by Catholic nuns, state education minister Monika Hohlmeier (CSU) has expressed the view that the Bavarian law does not violate the principle of equal treatment. Johannes Friedrich, regional bishop of the Protestant Church in Bavaria, has also expressed his support for the law.
SZ 12.11.04 // SZ 23.11.04

Islamist database

On 11th November 2004, federal and state security officials have reached an overall agreement on setting up an Islamist database, a move which had been initiated by the German Conference of Interior Ministers. In view of the threat posed by Islamist terrorists, police and intelligence services want to improve their cooperation by setting up a common data network. However, the extent of the Islamist database is to be limited. For example, it will not comprise any data on the approximately 27,000 members of the Milli Görus association. Even though officials of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution regard this association as extremist, the organisation does not propagate violence. The database will not comprise any full texts or data sets either - it will only contain cross-references showing which authorities have compiled data on respective suspects. Accessing the data is also to be strictly limited.
SZ 13.09.04 // FAZ 19.11.04

Asylum statistics

In November, a total of 2,665 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. Compared to October 2004, the number of asylum seekers has thus decreased by 8.0% (-233 persons.). Compared to November 2003, respective figures have fallen by 30.4% (-1,165 persons). In November 2004, applicants' main countries of origin were Serbia and Montenegro (299), Turkey (288) and the Russian Federation (274), followed by Vietnam (145) and Iraq (108). The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees (BAFL) has passed decisions on the asylum petitions of 4,727 persons, 57 (1.2%) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 100 persons (2.1%) have been granted protection against deportation according to §51 Par. 1 Foreigners Act (AusLG). The petitions of 2,960 persons (62.6%) have been rejected. The cases of another 1,610 persons (34.1%) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants have withdrawn their petitions.
Pressemitteilung BMI 13.12.04

November 2004

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