‘Islam doesn’t belong to Germany’, new Interior Minister

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Berlin (AFP): Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hardline new Interior Minister declared that Islam does not belong Germany” in an interview published on Friday, setting off a political storm two days into her fourth term.

In his interview with the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, Mr Seehofer said Germany had been “shaped by Christianity”, and that the country should not give up its own traditions.

“The Muslims who live with us obviously belong to Germany,” he added.

Mr Seehofer, who heads Mrs Merkel’s Bavarian sister party the CSU, also vowed to increase deportations of rejected asylum-seekers.

The chancellor made plain in 2015, amid a rise in anti-immigration protests, that she believed Islam was part of Germany, echoing the words of former president Christian Wulff.

The outspoken Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, is new to the cabinet.

His expanded interior super-ministry also covers “Heimat” or homeland affairs, intended to recapture claims to patriotism and national identity from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which won nearly 13% of the vote in September’s general election.

Powerful conservative Wolfgang Schäuble said in 2006 that Islam was part of Germany and Europe as interior minister in Merkel’s first cabinet, drawing little reaction.

Most of those who came through the Balkans to Germany in 2015 passed through Seehofer’s southern state of Bavaria, at times more than 10,000 a day, sparking a strong backlash in the region.

He has vowed to now take a tough line against convicted criminal migrants and speed up repatriations of rejected asylum-seekers.

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