Islamophobia in Germany

If you think anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States is running high, a look across the Pond will put things in perspective.

If you think anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States is running high, a look across the Pond will put things in perspective.  In addition to the various hypernationalist parties which have been increasing their strength and the burgeoning “ban the burka” movement that has been passed into law into France and elsewhere, there’s the bizarre case of German central banker Thilo Sarrazin has stirred international controversy with his new book Germany Does Away With Itself: How We are Risking the Future of our Nation, which contains what many believe are anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant sentiments.

I provide a lengthy roundup of the story and reaction at New Atlanticist in a piece titled “Merkel Stands Up Against Islamophobia.”  The upshot is that, while Sarrazin has generated a great deal of sympathy, none of it’s coming from the country’s political leaders.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is hitting all the right notes.  In an interview today with Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, she forthrightly declared, “When [Germany’s] Turks have worries and problems, I am their chancellor, too.”


It’s an unfortunate if natural human tendency to lash out at “the other,” particularly when times are hard.   But it’s the duty of political leaders to stand up against the more virulent forms of this, and Merkel is meeting it admirably.   Others, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, could learn much from her example.

Much more at the link.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Religion
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    You’re a bit late at the party Jim. There’s been an undercurrent against Turkish guest workers as they are called for forty years in Germany. But just like there are numerous naturalized Hispanics here so there are lots of naturalized turks there. Every so often some rabble rousers come out of the woodwork to stir up trouble and the govt (of whichever complexion) tries to damp thing down because they realize unlike the idiots that the economy needs these folks and they don’t want public order disturbed by fanatical bigots who might over excite the merely mildly prejudiced.   

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    As I’ve been saying for some time, immigration poses a special challenge to the ethnically-defined states of Europe.  How the challenge is met is likely to shape the fate of these states one way or another.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I’m aware of the backstory, having lived in Germany several times.  But there are has there’s an upsurge during bad economic times.

  4. mantis says:

    If you think anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States is running high, a look across the Pond will put things in perspective.
    And give us something to look forward to.  Hooray!

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    “I’m aware of the backstory, having lived in Germany several times.  But there are has there’s an upsurge during bad economic times.”

    There’s always an upsurge in bad economic times. There was one about (and here my memory fails me) maybe in the late 90’s when they burning peoples houses and all kinds of stuff. There are at least as serious periodic outbursts against the Jews by sundry nut cases, does this mean Germany is consumed by anti semitism. I think not.

  6. tom p says:

    If you think anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States is running high, a look across the Pond will put things in perspective.

    When Newt said “when Saudi Arabia lets us build christain churches…” pretty much the unanimous response here was (by the posters, not the commentors) “WHat???? We measure ourselves by the standards of Saudi Arabia???? I think not!”

     So now we measure ourselves by the standards of Germany?

    Sorry James, if SA didn’t work as a standard, neither does Germany. We set our own standards. They ONLY question is, “Do we meet our standards?”

  7. Tano says:

    tom p,
    Help me out here. I am not getting your point at all. How is James proposing adherence to German standards? He seems merely to be reporting on what the situation is there. His only comparison between the US and Germany was in that sentence you quote –  in which he seems to only be remarking on the fact that there seems to be more Islamophobia over there than over here.
    I really can’t fathom what you are driving at.

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    It has been the aim of Islam to convert the world to its religion and system of laws since Mohammed stumbled out of the cave he had the vision in.  Many of the promoters of Islam clearly state their aims.  There are those here who comment here are so against anything American they would welcome those who would so radically change this country as to make it unrecognizable.  IDIOTS label those who warn against what they see as a looming danger Ismamophobes.  Be aware, Islam does not tolerate athiests, gays, adulterers, and all the things the left clings to.  People like Mantis and Anjin do not deserve the freedom given them as they would deny it to others.  I can just here they hypocracy.  Can you imagine if Christians demanded biblical law be followed?  Oh, thats right, there is none.  We have to go to Islam and Sharia to find that.  Mosaic law is Judism.  I think some of you who comment here would secretly like to stone a 14 year old girl to death.

  9. tmc says:


    Most religions seek to convert others and have been and still are very successful in doing so. But your fear of one particular religion gaining control of the American government and rewriting the constitution seems extreme to me. The people that move here from other countries where religions control the state do so because they prefer our system. Just stick with enforcing across the board protection of civil rights and we will be fine. I doubt America is going to turn into one giant religious cult of any type.

    Regarding some of the problems in Europe, I watched an online seminar about homegrown radicalism a few years ago presented by US Homeland Security, I believe it was, and they had a speaker who was a psychologist or psychiatrist who studied radicalism in Europe. He said that the extreme problems there were due to isolation of refugee populations, partly from hostility of host nation citizens, and partly due to some nations’ generous open-ended welfare systems combined with fairly high unemployment. It was the old ‘idle hands’ scenario.

    In contrast, he thought the US did a decent job, (at that time), of being welcoming and encouraging assimilation, though when it comes to welfare he thought we might instigate problems by being too mean-spirited and stingy, as opposed to being overly generous. If you notice most of our domestic terrorists are young unemployed males.

    I agree with Dr. J that further hard times could stress our system with a very bad outcome.

  10. Ole_Sarge says:

    After living over there for a decade during the 90s, (same time France started to have the stirrings of the same troubles as Algeria) I saw why.
    You want to see America in a couple years, go to London or Lyon, or Frankfurt am Main.

  11. Tano says:

    You want to see America in a couple years, go to London or Lyon, or Frankfurt am Main.
    I would think the more appropriate destination would be Mexico City. I don’t know if you realize this Sarge, but migration is not a random process. Europe gets a lot of Muslim immigration because 1) ir shares a huge southern border, across the Med, with Isalmic countries, 2) It has long standing ties, indeed active attempts at integration, with a large muslim country to its SE – Turkey and 3) it has long-standing ties, through a history of colonialism, with many muslim countries in Africa, Western Asia and South Asia.
    The United States has a somewhat different history, a different geography, and a very different pattern of immigration.

  12. dutchmarbel says:

    I read a (dutch) book about the history of POC in the Netherlands. It wasn’t a great book but one thing that struck me was that it acknowledged that discrimination didn’t play a part untill the group or ‘outsiders’ was big enough. We had an African (black) minister and head of the army in 1903, but that would be unthinkable in the 1960’s.
    I’m 48 and in my lifetime I’ve allready seen various groups being targetted as being hostile and ‘un-Dutch’. Indonesian people, Surinam people, Turkish people and currently it’s Moroccan people. We currently have a party that’s mainly anti-Islam that gets lots of votes in the elections, so it IS a matter of concern. At the same time we *do* have islamic politicians (even the mayor of Rotterdam), writers, journalists and other rolemodels so it doesn’t stop people from having careers or anything, so I am sometimes rather inclined to see it as the newest fad.

  13. OldBull says:

    I’m sorry to see the casual acceptance of “Islamophobia” to describe opposition to the adherents of Islam. “Phobia,” as is widely known, means an “irrational fear.” There are plenty of rational reasons to oppose the spread of Islam into places where it has no historical base, and where many of its tenets are essentially antithetical to prevailing social norms and mores.