Integration is very important to the chancellor, according to Georg Streiter, a government spokesman. “People being separated from one another is the opposite of integration,” he told the Rheinische Post on Saturday.
The subject of how to treat Muslim school children when it comes to sport instruction is becoming an election topic.
Merkel's Social Democratic Party opponent in the September national vote – Peer Steinbrück – recently said he could imagine separating the sexes for sport instruction as a courtesy to Muslim students.
However he is not in favour of a general policy that would promote separate sex gym instruction.
Steinbrück defended his statements while on a trip to Paris, saying he was not going to go back on what he said. “Many Muslim parents solve the problem of sport instruction by calling their children in sick. That also cannot be the solution,” he told the Focus magazine.
SPD General Secretary Andrea Nahles defended Steinbrück and noted in her state of Rhineland-Pfalz the separation of the sexes for sport instruction “has long been the norm and takes place without a problem if the schools can organisationally deal with it and they want that.” She made her comments to the Rheinische Post.
Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann responded, saying Steinbrück “has no clue” when it comes to integration policy.
In Germany girls and boys grow up together and are treated the same and have the same rights, Herrmann said.
“With all due respect to Islam, we should not question equality between a man and a woman,” Herrmann told Focus magazine.