Germany’s Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel said refugees must respect the country’s liberal values – which include tolerance, openness and religious freedom.
In an interview with a Syrian journalist, who came to Germany fleeing conflict in his country of birth in 2015, the politician said she expects ‘’the people who come to us to stick to our laws.’’
Merkel, who will seek a fourth term as chancellor in the heavily contested September election, has attracted wide criticism regarding her decision to allow more than one million refugees to enter the country over the past two years.
Merkel’s party is thought to have lost support over its open borders migration policy, with refugees from the middle-east being blamed for various acts of terror, as well as the now infamous New Year’s eve sexual assaults in Cologne.
2016 saw a total of 129 terrorism related deaths in France, Belgium and Germany alone. As many as a thousand women reported being sexually assaulted by men of Middle-eastern and North-African appearance during the 2015 New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne.
The Christian Democratic Union leader urged Germans to show openness in return: ‘’We know very few things about Syria, we know very few things about Iraq or African countries. And we must see this as an opportunity to learn more and experience more.’’
Security and immigration are expected to be major issues in the upcoming election, with far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party expected to enter parliament.
Anti-immigrant rhetoric has been on the rise across Europe, with Marie Le Pen’s National Front believed to stand a good chance of winning the next election in France, and far-right populist parties narrowly loosing elections in Austria and Holland.
In a clear attempt to address concerns among CDU’s traditional voters regarding the controversial migration policy, the party’s deputy leader, Julia Kloeckner, called for a ban of foreign funding for mosques and stricter rules for Islamic preachers.
Kloeckner also suggested a country-wide register of mosques, as well as an increased transparency regarding funding and sponsorship.
She believes the proposed legislation would give Islam in Germany a strong judicial grounding: ‘’An ‘Islam law’ can place the rights and duties of Muslims living in Germany on a new legal basis.’’
Chairman of the Islamic Council in Germany, Burhan Kesisi, said the proposals were populist and put Muslims under blanket suspicion.