16 May 2017

Bach vs burka: Germany in election-year identity debate

What does it mean to be German? A minister close to Chancellor Angela Merkel has kicked off a divisive election-year debate about cultural identity -- earning him praise, ridicule and charges of immigrant-bashing.

Some say it's high time to define shared values as Germany seeks to integrate more than a million mostly Muslim asylum seekers who arrived since 2015 under Merkel's open-door policy.

Others have slammed the initiative as a grab for right-wing voters who threaten to drift off to the nationalist, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in September elections.

The eye-catching opening salvo was fired by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere in the top-selling tabloid Bild on Sunday.

The front page showed the politician in charge of police and migrant affairs before the national colours black, red and gold, with the grammatically dubious headline "We Are Not Burka".

In a double-page spread, de Maiziere outlined in 10 points what he considers core elements of the German "Leitkultur", the guiding or dominant national culture. [AFP] Read more