Germany’s interior minister has suggested that Islamic holy days should be included in official regional calendars in areas with a large Muslim population.
Thomas De Maiziere, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which won federal elections last month, made his comments during a campaign rally for state elections in Lower Saxony in the country’s northwest.
He said: “I’m willing to talk about the possibility of introducing Islamic holidays.
“In areas where a lot of Catholics live, we celebrate All Saints’ Day, and in areas where not a lot of Catholics live we don’t celebrate All Saints’ Day. So why can’t we think about Islamic holidays as well?”
De Maiziere prompted a backlash from his own party and political allies by suggesting that Germany introduce Muslim public holidays.
He was, however, backed by the leader of the Social Democrats, Martin Schulz.
Alexander Dobrindt, a senior CSU politician, told the Bild newspaper: “Germany’s Christian heritage is not negotiable.
“For us, the introduction of Muslim holidays is out of the question.”
Meanwhile, Martin Schulz said that the idea was worth “thinking about”, according to the DPA news agency.
Schulz said he was surprised that the idea had come from the interior minister who he said was usually known for having “very little imagination” in this area.
His statement was also disputed by Aiman Mazyek, the head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, who said that introduction of Muslim public holidays would foster integration.
Such holidays would show that Muslims are a part of Germany and become a sign of “mutual understanding as well as good and friendly coexistence” of various parts of the German society, Mazyek told Passauer Neue Presse.
Germany is home to 4.4 million Muslims, majority of whom are of Turkish origin.