Germany’s interior minister has suggested allowing the celebration of Islamic holiday at the state level in areas with large Muslim communities.
Thomas De Maiziere, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which won federal elections last month, made his comments during a campaign rally for state elections in Lower Saxony in the country’s northwest.
“I’m willing to talk about the possibility of introducing Islamic holidays,” de Maiziere said.
As reported by Al Jazeera, the German constitution states that all 16 states can decide on their own which religious public holidays are celebrated.
“In areas where a lot of Catholics live, we celebrate All Saint’s Day, and in areas where not a lot of Catholics live we don’t celebrate All Saint’s Day. So why can’t we think about Islamic holidays as well?” said de Maiziere.
Currently, for example, fewer than five states celebrate the Catholic Assumption of Mary holiday and the Christian Epiphany.
The only holiday under federal law – meaning all states must mark the occasion – is Germany Unity Day, during which the reunification of Germany is celebrated.
“But in general, our holidays are Christian and that will remain like that,” De Maiziere added. “They shape us and it will remain like that.”
In a separate report, however, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) noted that conservative members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition were in an uproar on October 14 after De Maiziere tabled the idea of a Muslim holiday in Germany.
According to AFP, the Bavaria-based sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, strongly rejected the idea.
“Germany’s Christian heritage is not negotiable,” Alexander Dobrindt, a senior CSU politician, told the Bild newspaper. “For us, the introduction of Muslim holidays is out of the question.”
Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz meanwhile said on October 14 that the idea was worth “thinking about”.