By Anna Varfolomeeva
BEIJING —(September 21—M4Relay) —“For years we’ve been deceiving ourselves… Mosques are going to be a more prominent part of our cities than they were before,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, September 18.
Germany had been shaken by a fierce debate regarding statements about Muslim immigrants made by Thilo Sarrazin, a central bank’s board member, and Angela Merkel had participated in an award ceremony in honor of Kurt Westergaard – a famous cartoonist who portrayed the Prophet Mohammed with a turban shaped like a bomb.
Merkel’s presence at the ceremony raised dust. Aiman Mazyek of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany rebuked the Chancellor saying “Merkel is honoring the cartoonist who in our view trampled on our Prophet and trampled on all Muslims.”
At this point one may start asking whether Merkel’s new moves are aimed at appeasing the angered Muslim communities or are aimed at securing economic ties with Muslim dominated countries including Turkey. The decision to tolerate mosques might as well be an attempt to create a visible balance in previously taken actions which may have negatively affected relations between Germany and Islamic nations.
Beneath Merkel’s moves may also be hidden fears from silent threats that may have come from terrorists groups as was the case with France when the latter decided to approve laws banning the Islamic full face veil, with Belgian parliament following suit.
Germany has millions of Muslims living on its territory, including three million Turks. The country is Turkey’s biggest foreign investor and trading partner. Turkey is as such a source of revenue for Germany.
Merkel’s recent U-turn in relations with the Islamic world as seen from her comments, could be a commendable move – a move in the right direction and one that could be “a stitch in time that saved many,” if one were to consider the fact that France is on terrorist red-alert which evidently was occasioned by its decision to ban the face veil.
It should be noted that during Merkel’s visit last March to Turkey, she discussed a possible support for international sanctions against Iran. But the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan considered Merkel’s position as counter-productive and hypocritical. Erdogan said “we are of the view that sanctions are not a healthy path and… that the best route is diplomacy.”
Being ignored in their wish to join EU, Turkey has strengthened its relations with Iran. “I can’t see any reason why we can’t establish an unimpeded trade mechanism with Iran similar to the one with Europe,” Erdogan said. “There are lots of things that we can give to Iran, as Turkey has made a serious industrial leap,” he said.
Evidently, the new stance taken by the German Chancellor will go a long way to foster relations and possibly heal old scars caused by the previous actions from the Chancellor that angered the Islamic communities. Merkel could be said to be paving a new foreign policy that would greatly work in favor of Islamic communities. From her recent comments, one may not be wrong to think that Germany is gradually on its way to push for Turkey’s candidacy into the European.