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Hamburg's deal with Muslims sparks concerns
Photo: DPA

Hamburg's deal with Muslims sparks concerns

Published: 13 Nov 2012 10:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Nov 2012 10:21 GMT+01:00

The agreement was struck between Hamburg city authorities and the council of Islamic communities (Schura), the Turkish-Islamic Union (Ditib), the association of Islamic cultural centres (VIKZ), as well as the city's Alevi community. Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz was set to sign it on Tuesday, the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper reported.

Religious instruction in schools and state recognition of Muslim holidays are among the cornerstones of the deal, which ties into existing agreements with Christian churches and Jewish communities.

In future, Muslim teachers will join Protestant pedagogues at the front of the classroom, the paper said. Moreover, Muslim holidays would be given equal status with other religious holidays, such as the Day of Prayer and Repentance celebrated by Christians.

The agreement, which was launched by the city's former mayor Ole von Beust in 2007, also sees Muslim groups pledge to adhere to the core values set out in Germany's constitution - including religious tolerance and gender equality.

Yet despite broad support for the deal in Hamburg's legislative assembly, not all politicians have endorsed it.

Members of the pro-business Free Democrats have taken a critical view, with the party's deputy in the assembly, Anna von Treuenfels, telling the Hamburger Abendblatt that such agreements "fundamentally contradict the liberal world view that calls for maximum possible separation of religion and churches and the state."

She also warned that "imprecise" formulations in the agreement could open the city up to legal headaches - saying it does not expressly regulate the wearing of headscarves or other religious clothing, such as the burka, during school instruction.

Hamburg's school board dismissed those concerns, however, saying decisions on such issues would be made on a case-by-case basis.

"As soon as clothing has a de-personalising effect, the line has been crossed and wearing it would not be allowed," spokesman Peter Albrecht told Hamburger Abendblatt. "Wearing a burka during class in Hamburg is not permitted."

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Your comments about this article

11:22 November 13, 2012 by pepsionice
I think they opened up a can of worms by this deal. Any radical group can form a religious collective now and demand the same type of deals. I don't see why Scientology couldn't walk into Hamburg and demand a national holiday for their religion...under this type of agreeable atmosphere.
11:39 November 13, 2012 by michael4096
The wormcan was opened long ago when the christian church set their holidays.

The only question now is what proportion of the population is enough for a group to claim that their ideas should be taken into account. Obviously, Hamburg feel that the current muslim proportion is sufficient. If scientology ever got to the same proportion then they too would, one assumes, be deemed sufficient.

I have no problem with democracy in action.
11:45 November 13, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:53 November 13, 2012 by simski
I'm all for the seperation of state and religion. In Germany, alas, this has never been the case. Even state constitutions make concessions to Christian religion. But: People crying for the separation of church and state now, that one world religion is getting the same rights as another, most likely do so because they are racist.
11:55 November 13, 2012 by keeps71
@pepsionice: You've nailed it. If you let one immoral cult in, you open the door for them all. That's the reason for separation of church and state in the first place so as not to discriminate against ANY minority be it religious or non-religious.

And yes, @michael4096, the door was opened with Xtianity but that was when the theists ran things - it's time to correct that injustice.

This idiot of a mayor thinks he is placating and controlling muslims by giving them privileges (for which they have threatened violence and propagated hate speech, BTW, without any legal action being taken) - but do you really think the next time someone draws a cartoon they're going to show 'religious tolerance' or change long-held bigoted beliefs and give 'gender equality' a chance? Not to mention their attitudes to homosexuals and genital mutilation. This city council's naivety is staggering and they have learnt nothing from history.
12:53 November 13, 2012 by michael4096
@keeps71

The problem is not with theists per se but with people who believe that they are right, absolutely right, so right in fact that they will force their ideas down everybody's throat whether they like it or not. Like your attitude towards the mayor and muslims, for example...
13:07 November 13, 2012 by adipk
I am agree with you "michael4096". this is democracy. I am not agree with some friends here as well. for example one of us raised the question about cartoon stuff. My Question is why one need to disrespect the sensitive issues. If one can't deny Holocaust, one cant say against jews than why only with Muslim and especially sensitive issues. If its the freedom of speech than please remove double standards. I know lots of German deny Holocaust but due to "Freedom of speech" they shut their mouth.

At last, It gives good sign and hope for better integration.
13:49 November 13, 2012 by saddness
it´s good that teachers of everybackround can teach, no problem at all, just hope that they teach in plain german than...

the holidays thing is just wrong....why others can´t accept that they life in a country with other backrounds, if they wanna have a day off... take a day off and not force the country to change this for you, now everybody has to join a religion and can jump in between just to get the maximum off holidays.
14:15 November 13, 2012 by MaKo
They claim it "undermines the separation of church and state"?! Have they looked at their income taxes lately???
14:40 November 13, 2012 by StoutViking
When did ever another minority in Germany claimed to so much rights, don't mention priveleges? Why is it in Europe everyone are spreading a red carpet to Muslims? Why should they be given special treatment and "prizes" for integration?

Isn't it enough Hamburg police has deals with local criminal clans?

This is going in one direction. In some cities in Danemark and Belgium they banned christmas trees to "not offend". Guess who's next?

@MaKo - people who say they're christian are opted to give a summ from their salary to the church. The church, in return, is providing with various social services, including kindergartens, not hoarding them in treasuries - this isn't the middle ages. This tax is not imposed on the general population, and the state had long stopped funding the church from the general treasury.
16:48 November 13, 2012 by marimay
@ stoutviking

Special treatment? How is it special if they are asking for things the christians and jews already have?
19:02 November 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ StoutViking

I think the issue raised by MaKo is that the state does a free service to the Catholic and Protestant church by collecting the tax for them. It is quite uncommon for a secular state to be a church tax collector. I, for one, do not know of a similar case. So Ms. von Treuenfels should first consider this when speaking of "maximum possible separation of religion and churches and the state".

And yes, it is funny that the mentioned politicians express opposition against this deal but have nothing against the similar deals struck with Christians and Jews (Jews being fewer than Muslims in Hamburg, as you asked about a minority that received similar or more rights). Double standards, isn't it?
20:12 November 13, 2012 by raandy
If you open "Pandor's Box of Religion" you had better be prepared for for request and concessions to all religions.

This was a mistake, To much far right liberalism will be the death of us all.
21:30 November 13, 2012 by Dizz
Separation of state and religion. Hmm.

http://www.thelocal.de/national/20121110-46093.html
01:07 November 14, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
As long as my rights as an aethiest are not infringed and nobody tries to impose church tax on me I am fine. I am however fully behind the seperation of church and state and think this new train of thought from Hamburg should be kept a careful eye upon. Rather than expand on religious holidays which will make a ridicule of life in Germany the state should only be aiming to recognise non religious holidays whilst leaving religious communities the freedom to respect their respective festivities in their own private way.
05:47 November 14, 2012 by StoutViking
@ChrisRea - The Jews had never DEMANDED anything. For centuries they'd bow their heads to whatever s**t pelted at them by their hosting nations and were at the mercy of whatever princes and free cities they were the subjects of. Emancipation came only in early 1800's (fully achieved in all German territories only in 1871), and was mostly a part of a row of reforms for all lower subjects.

Jews always had to wait for someone to be kind enough to tell the townsfolk not to burn them at the stake or pillage their house on X-mas. Jews always used their own funds to build their houses of worship. Jews never rioted whenever their belief was offended. Whenever Jews got emancipated, they quickly grasped the idea of enlightment and proceeded on to reform their religion and sough formal education and adopting free trades. Their religion is not missionary, they never sought to spread it outside their own circle or glorify it.

When did Jews ever riot? Vandalized? Held show of force mass prayers in the street blocking traffick? What is the % of Jews occupying German prisons? How many Jews you hear doing the "Guckst du?!" schlagerei?

Is it only because they're a smaller minority than Muslims? Oh, I get it, the bigger you are in number the more demands you can make and more previleges can be sought. And I was mistaken that in a democracy all must be equal... Or maybe it's communism? OK, you wait till they're majority and enjoy your new Scharia Compatible constitution.
07:22 November 14, 2012 by hech54
@simski

Once again the facts MUST be pointed out to stupid people....Islam is NOT a race, neither is Christianity.
10:00 November 14, 2012 by Edin
@StoutViking

Just trying to be objective here, didn't you read or understand what others are saying here? Is it really not logical?

Interesting with how much passion you use the Jew argumentation, are you maybe one? Anyhow, you clearly hate muslims.

Just to make sure we all understand you clearly, would you be so kind to share us how exactly would you "democratically" deal with muslims in Germany, or anywhere else for that matter?
10:41 November 14, 2012 by Onlythetruth
StoutViking is absolutely spot on, well said! Oh by the way, I'm not Jewish if that matters. Lets all recognize that islam is an ideology rather than a religion, one with political goals and that "islamophobia" is entirely justified in the West as it finds its democratic traditions under threat from a hostile invasion of cheap labor.
11:07 November 14, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ StoutViking #16

"The Jews had never DEMANDED anything." - Really? How come that they signed with Hamburg in 2007 a similar deal as the one reported in this article? You might want to read the one before last paragraph of http://www.thelocal.de/national/20120815-44369.html. If you can read German, I can give you also a local source. So when the Muslims peacefully obtain the similar rights in Hamburg as the Jews, you suddenly feel it is not in order.

I am glad that at least you got the point with the collection of church tax.

@ Onlythetruth

You might want to revise your vocabulary. Phrases like "... is an ideology rather than a religion" show that you have no clue what ideology is (a system of ideas and ideals). All religions are ideologies.
11:57 November 14, 2012 by StoutViking
@Edin - the way you say it, it's like being a Jew is something sinister, and automatically hating Muslims. Clearly, YOU are the one for whom it matters who's who on the ethnic grounds and in your marginal world only a Jew could defend a Jewish possition. Me? I'm of mixed origin and I profess the church of the holy brew - my temple is the one with the most taps on the bar.

Someone brought the Jews up as an argument, so I used them as an example. They're fairly easy to use, for they been around very very long, especially in Europe. Their history and whereabouts are very well documented, whereas if I had to use Chinese as an example, I'd have very little to work with but statistics from the past 30 years or so, since they had little to no common history in Europe.

@ChrisRea - Took them pretty long, not? Jews been in Germany over a millenea and only in 2007... Gimmie a break. You say it like they had a riot.

It's not the kind of demands I was aiming at. Wherever you heard that Jews demanded pork removed from school caffetereas? Or Hindus demanding the same with beef?

Here you go: http://www.shz.de/nachrichten/top-thema/artikel/keine-currywurst-mehr-in-kieler-kitas.html

Soon they'll demand Halal too. Already have in England.

Oh and if all religions are ideologies, are all ideologies also religions? NS is then a religion too? Maybe they should be dealt as official one as well?
13:13 November 14, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ StoutViking

Where do you take the riots from? The whole discussion was:

You: When did ever another minority in Germany claimed to so much rights, don't mention priveleges? (#10)

Me: ... similar deals struck with Christians and Jews ... (#12)

You: The Jews had never DEMANDED anything. (#16)

Me: ... they signed with Hamburg in 2007 a similar deal ... (#21)

So why do you always bring rioting into discussion when talking about Jews getting rights/privileges in Hamburg?

Oh, so you need to understand some words too? OK, here we go. Religion = the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power. So all religions are ideologies, but not all ideologies are religions (religions are a subset of ideologies). Is NS a belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power? My take is that is not a religion. By the way, why did you bring it in?
13:14 November 14, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Sorry ChrisRea but you are wrong about the definition of ideology. Its the body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.

Religion on the other hand is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, usually including the belief in a superhuman agency.

Which of course is the point. Many folks assume that islam is only the latter when of course it is striving for dominance as the former. There is a price for everthing and cheap labor from outside europe these days comes with its own price both socially and politically.
14:49 November 14, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Onlythetruth

While many ideologies do have a political or social side, there are also systems of ideas that lack them. For example, I hope you heard of Descartes' dualism, Lamarckism, Epicureanism (which appeared as a challenge to Platonism and Stoicism) and of course Darwinism.

Actually all religions that I heard of do have a "social plan", so they qualify pretty well within your definition of ideology. So also Christianism and Judaism are clearly ideologies.
14:54 November 14, 2012 by StoutViking
@ChrisRea - You still didn't explain me how Jews "demanded" this agreement. I don't think you understood what I meant by "demands".

Your question regarding riots is not well formulated. "Always"? I don't always discuss this matter even. I'm not sure how to answer it. Why I bring up rioting at all? Because it happens all too often in the past decade or so. Why in context with Jews at all? Because never in my life I heard of Jews rioting outside their own country. Oddly, they're not the ones with the "Chutzpah", eh?

And religion is a bit beyond belief and worship. Theology 101 anyone? The apostasy law, still prevailing in modern Islamic societies, is incompatible with authentic religion; a non-voluntary religion or non-voluntary continuance in religion would be a contradiction within the very concept of religion. And that's not nearly all of it.

@Onlythetruth - if only it were cheap labor. Welfare reliance is one of the highest among these groups, as well as having only one "bread-earner" in a household. This cheap labor becomes quite expensive.
16:44 November 14, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ StoutViking

"You still didn't explain me how Jews "demanded" this agreement." - Sorry, I did not know that you expect such an explanation. And you are right, the agreement between city of Hamburg and the Jewish community just happened to fall from the sky. It must be that the mayor woke up one morning and out of the blue decided to call the representatives of Jewish community to sign a deal recognising Jewish holidays and so on.

And by demands, I understand to be the ones from your question "When did ever another minority in Germany claimed to so much rights, don't mention priveleges?", which obviously are the ones described in this article.

" a non-voluntary religion or non-voluntary continuance in religion would be a contradiction within the very concept of religion" - that means that religion cannot function without belief in itself (as ideology). It is nothing new and I guess all of us agree on that.
16:54 November 14, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ ChrisRea

Sorry, but Dualism and Epicureanism are are neither religions or ideologies but rather classic philosophies that attract neither worshipers or political action groups.

You may consider Christianity and Judaism to be ideologies but when was the last time you heard about Presbyterians involved in bombings, honor murders, stoning women, advocating the of subjugation of unbelievers or insisting on Sharia law as the obligatory alternative to state law?

@ Welfare may be expensive but cheaper than paying workers a fair wage + benefits. It also takes time to rise in the economic ladder and the state is betting that immigrant families will provide generations of lower paid workers before they begin to demand the same wage as native germans.
17:00 November 14, 2012 by StoutViking
@ChrisRea - the religion bit, I was pointing out the apostasy law, I'm not sure you got it... The main religions practiced these days are based on voluntary worship, meaning they only want those who truly believe and want to do so, while tolerating other faiths.

Both Christianity and Islam spread, among other ways, through missionary action. However, Christianity had put down the sword long ago and does not demand anyone conversion by life threat. For some time now there's the dogma for non-Christinas to also go to heaven if they had been good people. In Islam it is not so and you're more than welcome to study it to find out.

Islam does not require voluntary worship and also relies on forced conversions until this day. According to it, all unbelievers will go to hell.
17:04 November 14, 2012 by marimay
I am sure there are plenty of "Presbyterians" involved in bombing the hell out of middle eastern countries and killing children under the guise of "Freedom" and "security"

Just because christians dont have a label like "honor killing" when they kill their own family members doesn't make it any less disgusting.

Would you not love to subjugate muslims for their religion? Hypocrite.

Stoning women is an issue for you? Yet westerners love shooting women, raping women, stabbing women, the end result is the same. What is your point?

I think you should look into changing your username, Onlythetruth. And get your head out of your rear.
17:40 November 14, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ marimay

"under the guise of freedom"?

Christians have a long history of killing their daughters because they were considered guilty of bad behavior?

Westerners love shooting women?

The point is that you are either clearly very confused or you are a troll. Either way your head is so firmly planted in your rear you have no idea what the world or indeed this conversation is about.

If you can't contribute anything meaningful here please get out of the way.
20:40 November 14, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Onlythetruth

"Dualism and Epicureanism are are neither religions" - of course, I gave them as examples of ideologies that do not have a political or social side.

"... or ideologies but rather classic philosophies ..." - yes, these ideologies are philosophies (philosophy = a set of views and theories of a particular philosopher concerning the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence). Philosophies are a subset of ideologies.

" when was the last time you heard about Presbyterians involved in bombings" - Christian terrorism has a long and diverse history. Couple of examples from recent times: Northern Ireland, The National Liberation Front of Tripura, Anders Behring Breivik (identifying himself as a "Christian crusader"), Army of God. Jewish terrorism is also pretty diverse, for example: Gush Emunim Underground, Keshet, Bat Ayin, Eden Natan-Zada (even Ariel Sharon characterised him as a "bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist"), Baruch Goldstein.

Anyway, we all know that religions were and still are used to justify killings. The article is however about a peacefully obtained deal which allows believers to practice their faith. Maybe this is the reason why there is virtually no religious terrorism in Germany. But then this situation does not satisfy the ones that try to stir religious violence (including some commentators above).
01:17 November 15, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ ChrisRea

You have that wrong - ideologies are political action strategies masquerading as philosophies.

No religious terrorism in Germany?? From where do you think the World Trade Center attack was planned? The most recent example of Islamist terror here is the killing of two US serviceman in the Frankfurt airport by an islamist last year. In 2010 we had the Al-Qaeda plot to launch "commando-style" terror attacks on France, United Kingdom, and Germany. In 2006 El Hajdib was arrested at Kiel's central train station on August 19, 2006 for attempted murder and trying to cause an explosion by placing bombs in two suitcases filled with bombs on regional trains in Germany. How about the 2007 bomb plot in Germany that was discovered following an extensive nine-month investigation, involving some 300 followers of the religion of peace who were attempting to build car bombs.

Should I go on?

The ideology that these folks follow is a dangerous one indeed. All islamic terrorists use the Koran to justify their attacks. We in the west need to recognize islam for what it really is and to prevent the continuing slide of our own society through sheer numbers into a cesspool of religious fascism.
03:55 November 15, 2012 by marimay
Oh, I get it. You're a brainwashed nutter. Do you ever come out from under the bed?
04:44 November 15, 2012 by StoutViking
Don't you just love it? It's like the Soviet Union all over again. When you don't see eye to eye with 'em, you're either a Nazi, or insane.
08:36 November 15, 2012 by Herr Ed
I'm not one for state-sanctioned religion in any way, shape of form, but I'll take a day off with pay whether I have to say "Amen", "Shalom" or "Alahhu Akbar."
08:52 November 15, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Onlythetruth

You might have not notice the word "virtually" (=nearly; almost) from "... there is virtually no religious terrorism in Germany". The fact that a non-German planned in Hamburg an attack against US does not mean religious terrorism in Germany. It would be like calling a hotel university because you studied two days in your room for your exam. The Frankfurt affair was the action of a lone-wolf lunatic, not an expression of a movement. And Al Qaeda terrorist attacks did not succeed because they do not really get support in Germany. So yes, Germany is virtually free from religious terrorism (no society can be 100% crime-free). And I would say that the biggest role in this is the freedom given to those that have a religion. Just like the reported deal.
09:55 November 15, 2012 by StoutViking
@ChristRea - If Frankfurt affair was the action of a lone-wolf lunatic, then so was Brievik. Right?

It didn't succeed because Al-Quaeda has no support in Germany? Do the 7/7 events in the UK mean Al-Quaeda does get support in the UK? And by support, do you mean on the public/national level, administrative or simply in number of affilliants?

Me? I thought the disaster in Germany was prevented simply due to the alertness of security forces. It's organized networks that are usually spotted, whereas lone-wolves are not, presicely because they act alone and don't share others.

In Germany, however, there is an alarming Salafist activity. And then these German citizens (natives, or immigrants or converts, whatever) who travel to conflict zones to be trained as terrorists and fight the west? Or did that simply fall on them from the sky? You don't think they were under influence of propaganda and systematic recruitment? This is how terrorism is rooted. The bombing attempts (sucessful or not) are their rotten fruit.
13:03 November 15, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ StoutViking

I hope you are not seriously comparing the Frankfurt affair with Breivik. In the first case, the guy acted without much preparation, as he was psychically unstable (and regretted the crime afterwards). A bit like the mother that killed her children and then deliberately crashed on the Autobahn. Breivik on the other hand created his own ideology, put it in a long paper, prepared couple of years for it (this is why his terrorist attack was so bloody) and is still convinced he did the right thing.

"And then these German citizens who travel to conflict zones to be trained as terrorists and fight the west?" - yes, what about them? Are they many enough to consider it a phenomena? I guess not. Even from those that do this, some come home because it was not what they believed in.

Religious radicalism can be found in any society. Fortunately, in Germany it is at very low level. The security forces can be as alert as they want, but if they do not receive support from the civil population (both as informants or people that are not willing to help the terrorists), they cannot really prevent terrorist attacks. If people feel that their religious freedom is respected, religious fanatics have no success.
15:08 November 15, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ ChrisRea

Breivik acted alone. The guy who killed two US servicemen in Frankfurt acted in solidarity with the more than 20,000 acts of islamic terrorism worldwide since 9/11. The problem is that muslim activitists feel the need not only for respect but for world domination over all unbelievers, an endlessly repeated theme in their public statements.
17:21 November 15, 2012 by ChrisRea
Right, that's why Breivik called himself a "Christian crusader". To distance himself from the atrocities committed by Middle Age Crusaders. I see now what you mean.
19:51 November 15, 2012 by StoutViking
@ ChrisRea - I thought he called himself that because he's a loonatic... To be a crusader you needed you be a part of a great force. He was... "Forever alone".

Eitherway, if you're going to go into the whole "who started it" discussion, or who's atrocities were most atrociable, then you might reopen the books and note that "Balat-al-Shuhada" came long before the crusades and did turn on Christian Europe. I assure you, they weren't more humane than crusaders... But seriously, you want to compare medieval warfare with today's standards? Go ahead, there are outstanding examples of it in Africa. Ask the boys of the Janjaweed and Boko-Haram. With Crusaders you could at least negotiate...
20:49 November 15, 2012 by Englishted
Give them a inch they will take a mile ,look at what is happening in the U.K. ,

also how about of reciprocation from the Muslim side?
00:03 November 16, 2012 by iSlam-mudslime
...
00:13 November 16, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ StoutViking

"he called himself that because he's a loonatic" - unfortunately he is not. That is why he was put in prison and not in the nuthouse.
00:22 November 16, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ iSlam-mudslime

I have read Geert Wilders book and it is shocking. I recommend it highly to those seeking a perspective on the issue of european muslim immigration and terrorism.
01:52 November 16, 2012 by marimay
Yes, Islam is ruining your countries. It certainly is not the government taxing you to death, bad foreign and domestic policies, bank bail outs, etc.. Stay distracted by non issues and boogeymen, while the bought and paid for career politicians destroy your country behind your back. You are your own problem but are too stupid to realize it. It is easier to blame those who are "different" than to confront the real issues head on. Cowards.
08:38 November 16, 2012 by StoutViking
@ChrisRea - To be standing trial you don't need to be 100% sane, just knowing the difference between right and wrong. This is why sociopaths still stand trial, tho they do infact possess a defect through which they are incapable of feeling empathy.

@marimay - And waves of unskilled, west-hostile immigrants is supposed to help this situation? SPD wants Germans to work for 400eu per month while giving HARZ IV and a subsidised flat to a family of 9, without forcing anyone of the household to actually work, sometimes for years. Anyone got a link to that documentary about the criminal clans in Kiel, who collected about 10 mil in welfare, and another 40mil in drug deals? What enrichment are we talking here? Dönner?
12:42 November 16, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ marimay

Yes, islam is certainly different. And hostile to the west, intent on subduing unbelievers, primitive, uneducated and a drain on resources. Muslim immigrants are cheap though and their import does suppress the price of labor. But of course you would like to distract us with "real issues". Sorry, some of us aren't so stupid.
21:13 November 16, 2012 by rmsbl4
When does sariha law start?
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