Opinion: "Citizenship Questionnaire" Shows Anti-Muslim Bias

February 2, 2006

Source: The Boston Globe


On February 2, 2006 The Boston Globe ran an opinion piece by columnist H.D.S. Greenway, who writes, "German liberals and Muslims... are outraged over a questionnaire that the state proposes to put before those seeking German citizenship... [S]ince January, if the authorities have some reason to think that you might not make a good citizen, then you might find yourself being grilled. For the instructions say that if the naturalization authority doubts that the applicant has really understood the content of his or her declaration, or doubts that the answers reflect 'inner convictions,' then the authorities will ''conduct a conversation with the applicant.' Defenders say Baden-Wurttemberg is being careful to screen out undesirables, and that only people the authorities have reason to be suspicious of would be questioned. But critics are sure the questionnaire is specifically aimed at Muslims... One question asks applicants to comment on the following statements: 'Humanity has never experienced such a dark phase as under democracy. In order to free himself from democracy, man has to understand first that democracy cannot offer anything good to him.' True, monarchists might agree with those statements, but that's not the group the questions were designed to catch... The Baden-Wurttemberg questionnaire flap is emblematic of a European-wide, post-9/11 angst that Muslim fanatics live amongst them, and that the hate that spews from a handful of mosques is not only dangerous but also incompatible with European values. Europeans are shocked by such outrages as honor killings, which really have more to do with old-fashioned, rural attitudes that some immigrants bring with them than Islam. But it's Islam that gets blamed. There is much to be done in Germany to integrate its Muslim minorities, most of whom abhor fanaticism, and progress is being made. But the primitive Baden-Wurttemberg questionnaire approach seems likely to do more harm than good."