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Cablegate: First Muslim Party in Germany Preparing to Go National

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RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHDF #0003/01 0261221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261221Z JAN 10
FM AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0258
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDF/AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF 0276

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSSELDORF 000003

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KISL GM
SUBJECT: FIRST MUSLIM PARTY IN GERMANY PREPARING TO GO NATIONAL

REF: 2009 DUSSELDORF 32

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1. (U) Summary: Germany's first and only Muslim-oriented
political party, Alliance for Peace and Fairness (BFF) -- up
until now only active in Bonn -- will run in the North
Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state elections this May and ultimately
aims to form party organizations in other states and on the
national level. The BFF, founded only eight months ago,
surprisingly won two seats in the Bonn city council in the
August 30, 2009 city elections. The party has a very moderate
platform, focusing on strengthening families and promoting
women's rights. The BFF expects that it can take advantage of
the growing Muslim population in NRW and Germany to become a
regular fixture in German politics. End Summary.

BFF Sees Need for a Muslim Party

-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In a meeting with ConOffs January 22, BFF founder and
leader Haluk Yildiz confirmed for the first time outside of his
party organization that the BFF would take part in the NRW state
parliament elections on May 9. Yildiz and other party members
founded the BFF after concluding that Bonn and NRW needed a
Muslim-led and oriented party in light of the current political
party realities. While the two major German parties, the
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party
(SPD), have Muslim members and candidates, Yildiz considers
these members mere political tokens since they do not play a
role in the leadership of these parties. The exception is the
Greens which have a Turkish Muslim party chairman, Cem Oezdemir,
but Yildiz considers this a political anomaly. Yildiz
described the right-wing parties in NRW (see reftel) as
anti-immigrant and the major left-wing party, Die Linke, as
anti-religion, explaining that the only real alternative is a
party led by Muslims. The BFF has established organizations in
40 cities in NRW, including the so-called "Capital of Islam in
Germany", Cologne.

BFF Has Eye on the Long Term

---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In NRW's August 30, 2009 municipal elections, the BFF
won 2.1% of the vote in Bonn and now plays a key role in the
city council, supporting the city's CDU-Greens coalition, which
relies on the BFF to bolster its narrow majority. Yildiz
confirmed that the BFF does not expect to cross the 5% threshold
to win seats in the NRW state parliament in the May 2010
elections, but believes it will win enough votes (at least 1%)
to qualify to receive state funds for their party. The BFF is
banking on NRW's Muslim population (7% of NRW inhabitants) for
support. In addition to NRW, the BFF will also establish party
organizations in the coming weeks in Berlin and Bavaria so it
can contest state parliament elections coming up in both states
in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Yildiz said that ultimately,
the BFF will work to establish party organizations in every
German state in the coming years in order to take advantage of
Germany's growing Muslim population, which he claimed will grow
to more than a quarter of the German population in the next 30
years.

BFF Has Moderate, Traditional Platform

--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (SBU) The main goal of the BFF, according to Yildiz, is to
afford German Muslims the opportunity to become both politically
and socially integrated in German society and to have a voice in
German politics. Yildiz noted that the BFF has faced political
opposition. For example, he said that the FDP in Bonn attempted
to block BFF's participation in the city elections, claiming
that it was creating a "parallel society" in Germany. Yildiz
dismissed this assertion, saying that the BFF was against
"assimilation," which he described as where immigrants lose
their identities. He rather favors "integration", where
immigrants become part of society without losing their
identities. He stressed that the BFF has no interest in
creating a parallel society. As Yildiz told Pol/Econ staff
before the August 30, 2009 municipal elections, the party wants

DUSSELDORF 00000003 002.3 OF 002


to become the "defender and mouthpiece of the socially
disadvantaged" in general, hoping to win support also from
outside the Muslim community. The focus in the platform on
promoting families and women's rights confirm the moderate
appeal of the party.

Comment

-------------

5. (SBU) Comment: Yildiz is an open and personable leader, who
will likely become more engaged on the state and national levels
as the BFF expands. He is politically moderate and has
expressed his concern about radicalism, on both the right and
the left. Interestingly, a natural coalition partner for the
BFF appears to be the CDU, because of that party's traditional
family-based values which are held by a majority of Muslims in
NRW as well. Yildiz expects that the BFF will eventually cross
the 5% threshold -- not in 2010, but in the next NRW state
parliament elections, likely to take place in 2015. Even before
then, however, the BFF is likely to become a more visible
political force in Germany.

6. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.
WEINER

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