“I’m prepared to talk about whether we would also introduce Muslim public holidays,” de Maizière said. He pointed out that there are several Catholic holidays, such as All Saints day, which are only celebrated in Catholic-dominated parts of the country.
“Why shouldn’t we think about a Muslim public holiday in parts of the country where many Muslim live?” he asked.
The Christian Democratic (CDU) politician added though, that public holidays in Germany are influenced by Christianity and that it should broadly stay this way.
Germany currently has nine public holidays which are celebrated in the entire country. But the southern state of Bavaria has a total of 13 days off, as it celebrates several additional Catholic holidays.
The interior minister made the comments while speaking at a campaign event for upcoming state elections in Lower Saxony, where the CDU are polling neck-and-neck with the Social Democrats to be the largest party in the state parliament.
CDU leader in Lower Saxony, Bernd Althusmann, appeared less than impressed by de Maizière’s timing.
“Public holidays have a long tradition in Germany, I don’t see any need for a change to the current system,” he said.
Althusmann added that “I don’t think a discussion about religious holidays during election campaigning is appropriate."
Meanwhile, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) reacted furiously to the interior minister’s suggestion.
Party deputy leader Beatrix von Storch wrote on Twitter, “The CDU wants Muslim holidays - that is the difference to the AfD. We say NO NO NO to that!”
But the Social Democrats seemed more open to the idea. Sawsan Chebli, a Berlin politician for the SPD, said “I find the idea good. In Berlin there are already regulations for Ramadan and Eid.”