Germany's Christian Democrats
Does pacifism motivated by Christians play any role in public sentiment toward Germany's troop deployment to Afghanistan?
There is not a very strong pacifist attitude in Germany anymore. But for good reasons, Germans are sceptical of military involvement because of our history, especially after WWII started by Nazi Germany. For decades after WWII, there was a debate over West Germany's involvement in any international military action. Today, people are not saying that we're against involvement in Afghanistan because we're pacifists, but we see a growing number of people who don't believe in any chance for success. Many Germans wonder whether we are really able to help Afghanistan in the long run. And what about our own security situation? Will it be enhanced or worsened by the troop deployment in Afghanistan?
Some conservative politicians talk about threats from Muslim immigrant populations. Do you think those threats are real?
Radical Islamism is one of the largest dangers for an open society. It's no longer Communist doctrine. While fighting the dangers of radical Islamism, we need to take a closer look and see that far more than 90 percent of Muslims in Germany are living peacefully without any problems with our law. Politically, I see radical Islamism as a threat. But I'm very sad when I hear Christians talking hatefully about Muslims. I've been involved in fighting against persecution of Christians in the past decade. But when I talk about the need for freedom to build Islamic mosques, I receive shameful hate-filled letters from Christians. They write, "We wish your daughter in the hands of these Mullahs." I think, "Oh, a wonderful Christian brother is wishing that on a Christian brother."
If I have a strong Christian belief, I know that God is in power, not Osama bin Laden. If needed, we have to fight terrorism with military means, but xenophobia is never part of a Christian agenda. We can see radical Islamism as a threat, but at the same time, we have to see Muslim migrants as human beings loved by God. I think we have two misunderstandings. From a very liberal side of the Protestant church, people tend to just have interreligious small talk. These people are afraid that talking about differences could disturb nice religious small talk. On the other side, people can be driven by hate and extreme fear, which is unacceptable for me.
Last month, a television station aired a report that compared Christian missionaries who were killed in Yemen with Jihadists. Are Christians generally portrayed poorly in Germany?
Generally I would say no. But that specific report was very unfair. On the other hand we have good church services broadcast by television, also services of evangelical free churches. There are several evangelical activities supported by private companies as well as by state authorities, which are very much appreciated by the public. The Protestant church in Germany, which has a respected evangelical wing but a more liberal majority, has unanimously criticized this unfair report.
It is unacceptable to compare Christian women who are prepared to die for their belief with Islamist suicide bombers. Journalists doing so forget the clear difference: Those Christians were not prepared to kill for their belief. Osama bin Laden is prepared to die for his belief like Mother Teresa was. But Mother Teresa was never prepared to kill for her belief.