After the recent controversies at the Islam conference, parts of the SPD are calling on Muslims to boycott the roundtable. The appeal has met with protest not only from the CDU/CSU – but also from the Greens and the Alevi community. In an interview, SPD politician Lale Akgun, who heads the "International Cooperation" department in the North Rhine-Westphalia Integration Ministry, explains her opposition to the conference.
Interviewer: Calling for a boycott after a heated debate is what the vice chairman of the Alevi community in Germany literally calls "nonsense". How would you describe a boycott of the Islam Conference?–
Lale Akgun: Well, you know that I was very critical of this Islam Conference from the beginning and was of the opinion that it should be abolished. So, one should not call for a boycott of the conference, but quietly bury this Islam conference.
Interviewer: For what reason?–
Lale Akgun: I think that if you look at the meaning of a conference at the federal level, you quickly come to the conclusion that the federal government has little to say about religion. They know: Religion is a state matter and must be dealt with at the state level. There the really important, effective, concrete decisions are made, also for the religious groups. That is the federation makes at this point rather symbol politics. And I think enough symbolic politics have already been done on this ie, and the Islam Conference, in my opinion, did nothing at all. And at the moment it even has the opposite effect, it enrages people, it creates polarization in society. And for this reason, I am of the opinion that enough is enough with the Islam Conference.
Interviewer: Interior Minister Friedrich is being criticized – is he really so unsuitable or does this not rather fit into the stereotypical image that a CSU politician in this office likes to be put into at the next best opportunity??–
Lale Akgun: Well, I think the federal interior minister actually really put his foot in his mouth at this point. It’s not like you’re doing a conference to control or criticize people. That is not the purpose of a conference. So they don’t hold a conference with a target group and then tell this target group that they don’t belong to it. That’s why I believe that the Federal Minister of the Interior has made a very bad start with the Islam Conference. It was much more clumsy than its predecessors and has now also lost a certain amount of trust. It’s hard to go on at this point.
Interviewer: What do you think of Friedrich’s idea of a security partnership between Muslims and the German state??–
Lale Akgun: That is now really nonsense high 3. What kind of security partnership is this supposed to be?. I don’t like to use hackneyed words like general suspicion and so on, but I think to think that you could get people in the mosque to look at who is talking in conformity with democracy here and who is not, that’s not very effective because most people are of course in conformity with democracy. And the others who are not will be careful not to say so in public. The state needs and has other mechanisms to control, to monitor those who do not agree with our democracy. We have security, we have police, these are the right organs to watch people and to ensure our security. But not the mosque community or the imam.
Interviewer: Say simply, abolish Islam Conference, or how could it be continued or better designed?–
Lale Akgun: I say simply, abolish Islam Conference, because the thing has outlived itself. It was a media hype, to use the word for once. There has been enough talk about it in public. One has noticed the controversy. And I think at this point it has been good, and we or those responsible should now turn to the concrete work, if we really want to achieve something, and that is where the work really needs to be done: on the ground in the communities and at the state level. And otherwise, I think it’s enough with the symbol politics.
Interview: Uta Vorbrodt