Sharia in Germany? Politician Blasted for Support of Islamic Law
Does Sharia have a place in Germany? The interior minister of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate thinks it could, particularly in civil cases relating to marriage and divorce. But criticism of his comments has been fierce.
Most politicians in Germany have gotten the message: The quickest way to spark a career-damaging controversy is to make a facile comment about Nazis or the Holocaust. Media critics and political opponents are quick to pounce.
Hartloff, a politician from the center-left Social Democrats, made clear that he was referring specifically to family law issues such as divorce settlements and alimony, but also certain instances of contract law in which devout Muslims seek to avoid paying interest. Applying Sharia rules, he said, could help avoid hostility in such cases.
Reaction, perhaps predictably, has not been entirely supportive. Jörg-Uwe Hahn, the justice minister in the state of Hesse, lambasted Hartloff, telling the mass-circulation tabloid Bild that "German courts are here responsible for the law. We don't need special Islamic courts."
Serving the Cause of Integration
He was seconded by Stephan Mayer, a parliamentarian for the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. Mayer, a legal expert, demanded Hartloff's resignation. "It is inconceivable that a justice minister fosters such ideas," he told Bild. "There is no room in Germany for Islamic law. The Sharia is barbarous and inhuman in all its forms."
If Germany were to introduce parts of Sharia law, it wouldn't be the first European country to do so. Sharia councils have long been operational in Britain, most often focusing on issues dealing with marriage and divorce. Such courts also exist in parts of Greece, much to the chagrin of conservative politicians in Athens.
Some politicians in Germany, however, are not opposed to at least considering Hartloff's proposal. Michael Frieser, expert on integration issues for conservatives in German parliament, said that Muslim justices of the peace could perhaps be used to prepare the groundwork for a civil law judgement. He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that he has nothing against immigrants seeking judgements according to the legal systems they are used to. "That can ultimately serve the cause of integration," he said.
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2012
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH