Cablegate: Muslim Community and German City Sign Innovative

DE RUEHFT #4614/01 2891018
R 161018Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: Muslim Community and German City Sign Innovative
Integration Agreement

1. SUMMARY. The German city of Wiesbaden and nine Muslim community
organizations signed a long-discussed, groundbreaking integration
agreement September 27. The agreement, wherein the city and the
Muslim community pledge to cooperate in a number of areas, is the
first of its kind at any level in Germany and may set a precedent
for other cities. While all the political parties and most Muslim
organizations support the agreement, it has been criticized for
being discriminatory by singling out the Muslim community for
special treatment. END SUMMARY.

More Tolerance, More Education, More Mosques
2. The first-ever integration agreement in Germany was signed by
representatives of the city of Wiesbaden, including Lord Mayor
Helmut Mueller (CDU), and nine of the twelve large mosque-building
associations in the city. Wiesbaden, a city of 287,000 and the
capital of the federal state of Hesse, has around 15,000 Muslim
residents, including 11,500 of Turkish heritage. In signing the
eleven-point seven-page document, both sides recognized and affirmed
their commitment to the values of Germany's Basic Law and the
principles of tolerance, respect and transparency in action. The
agreement comes one year after the "German Islam Conference" where
federal government officials discussed integration issues with
representatives of the Muslim population. The German government was
criticized at the time for discussing integration with
representatives of groups that had no elected mandate in the Muslim

3. In signing the agreement, the Muslim organizations pledged to
make their activities and materials accessible to the public and to
offer them in German. They affirmed the principle of gender
equality and agreed to encourage Muslims in the community to allow
girls to take part in athletic activities and school trips. The
organizations recognized knowledge of German as essential to
successful integration. Peter Grella, Wiesbaden Integration
Commissioner and the lead drafter of the agreement, told the
Ambassador August 1 that younger Muslims were particularly
interested in such an agreement because it would provide them with
greater educational opportunities and a platform to succeed.

4. The city agreed to support the building of new mosques and a
cemetery and recognized Muslims as equal members of society.
Wiesbaden schools and kindergartens will no longer serve pork. The
city will also support Muslim religious instruction in schools in
Hesse, something which does not yet exist. The agreement promises
to increase opportunities for language training for immigrants,
especially women and children.

5. The effort to conclude the agreement has been underway for
almost five years, with the idea gaining more strength in 2004 when
a disagreement over a mosque-building project brought attention to
the issue. The Tauhid community in Wiesbaden had proposed building
a mosque with minarets, prompting outcry from a citizen's
initiative. The Head of the Wiesbaden Integration Office, Jeanine
Rudolph, told Polspec that the Muslim communities realized as a
result of this dispute that they did not know how to deal with the
public and that their actions were often seen as non-transparent.
The agreement was meant to create greater transparency and trust
between the Muslim communities and rest of the city. The
negotiation process has been protracted, reflecting the
sensitivities on both sides.

The Integration Agreement: For and Against
6. The integration agreement was supported by Lord Mayor Mueller
and the city council, which has a CDU-Green-FPD ruling coalition.
The opposition SPD, which is often seen as the traditional ally of
the Muslim community, also expressed its support for the agreement
saying: "We welcome the successful signing of the integration
agreement and see it as an important step for living together in

7. Not all Muslim communities in Wiesbaden agreed to sign. The
Ditib Mosque-Building Association (the largest Muslim community
group in the city) refused, saying its only contract with the German
state is the Basic Law and it does not need any more agreements.
Ditib also said the city government dictated the agreement,
expecting the community to accept and obey. The Initiative of
Secular and Lay Citizens from Muslim Countries in Hesse (ISL)
criticized the agreement for singling out and stigmatizing Muslims
and for promoting nine religious organizations -- who, in ISL's
view, do not speak for the diverse Muslim community -- as official
talking partners. In a statement, representatives of ISL argued:
"The signal to the public, most of which has nothing to do with
Islam, is that the Muslim population can not live in accordance with
the constitution without a special agreement."

8. One notable signatory is the controversial Turkish-Muslim
association Milis Goerues, which is under surveillance by the state

FRANKFURT 00004614 002 OF 002

Office for the Protection of the Constitution (OPC). The ISL
statement criticized the inclusion of Milis Goerues in the process
saying that treating this allegedly dangerous group like any other
only gave it undue recognition. Media sources argued that the
agreement tacitly recognized the legality of Milis Goerues'
activities. State Legal Expert Markus Poecker said that Milis
Goerues would remain under surveillance until the state had
established that the organization accepted the Basic Law in action
as well as in words.

9. COMMENT. The integration agreement undoubtedly provides benefits
for the mosque-building associations and the greater Muslim
community in Wiesbaden by ensuring support for their activities. It
will also improve the image of the Muslim community in the city by
demonstrating its commitment to working with the greater community
and accepting broadly held values. However, it is clear that many
elements within the community see the agreement, which would be
inconceivable in many other Western countries, as a Faustian bargain
and a setback in reaching their goal of equal treatment under the
law. Other state and federal politicians may look at the example of
Wiesbaden as they attempt to develop relationships with
representatives of the Muslim community. END COMMENT.

10. This cable was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

© Scoop Media

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