Minorities call for their languages to be constitutionally enshrined
Germany's native minority groups, such as the Sorbs, Frisians and Danes, have reacted to calls for the German language to be enshrined in the constitution by demanding that their own languages be included as well.
Daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung reported Wednesday that minority leaders were calling for equal treatment of the thousands of minority groups who have lived in Germany for centuries or even millennia. Their demands came after Bundestag president Norbert Lammert called last week for a new push to have German anchored in the constitution as the national language.
Thede Boysen, the head of the Minority Office – an independent body funded by the Interior Ministry and representing national minorities – said minorities such as Danes, Frisians and Sorbs had just as much right to include their languages in the constitution.
“In the event that they include German in the constitution, the languages of the national minorities must also be included as a consequence. That means Danish, Frisian and Sorb,” he said.
Boysen also represents Sinti and Roma living in Germany.
Indigenous minorities must be allowed to maintain their own cultures, he said. The state must conduct itself neutrally in order to preserve the respect for, and dignity of, these groups. A forced assimilation through the imposition of a language would be wrong, he said.
“That would not be civil societies living with and next to each other but rather an authoritarian domination and subordination like the empire.”
Flemming Meyer, chairman of the South Schleswig Voters’ Association agreed. “Clearly the majority speak German but as minorities we have just as much value,” he said.