Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government wants to criminalize forced marriages
as part of efforts to cope with the nation’s largely Muslim immigrant population
, AP reports
. About 4.3 million Muslims
live in Germany, and forced marriage is still fairly common
, especially among Turks and Arabs. But the government said
the problem is not limited to Islamic circles
The proposals come after weeks of heated debate about integration
in Germany — a sensitive issue
in the country that saw minorities persecuted under Hitler and now tries to present itself as a tolerant, liberal society
as a result.
The debate started when German central banker Thilo Sarrazin made controversial remarks about the failure of many Muslim immigrants to integrate
in a book — “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (German does away with itself).
President Christian Wulff encouraged Germans to accept that “Islam also belongs in Germany
,” which also stirred the debate.
Merkel said earlier this month that multiculturalism had “utterly failed”
in Germany. She told Muslims they must obey the constitution
rather than Sharia law
if they wanted to live in Germany.