Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
A person holds a joint at Munich's Englischer Garten. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

Bavaria wants to ban cannabis consumption at public venues and beer gardens, CDU changes wording on Muslims in draft party programme, raids to target people smugglers and more news from around Germany.


Bavaria rebels against legal weed

The southern state of Bavaria on Tuesday announced that it wants to ban the consumption of cannabis in beer gardens, at public festivals and on restaurant terraces.

The state government wants to "limit the public consumption of cannabis despite the federal government's dangerous legalisation law", according to a statement.

Clemens Baumgaertner, the head of the Oktoberfest, told the news portal he specifically wants to make the festival a weed-free zone.

"A family festival like the (Oktoberfest) and cannabis consumption don't go together," he said.

On April 1st, Germany became the largest EU nation to legalise recreational use of cannabis, despite fierce objections from opposition politicians and medical associations.

Under the first step in the much-debated new law, adults over 18 are now allowed to carry 25 grams of dried cannabis and cultivate up to three marijuana plants at home.

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany's partial legalisation of cannabis

Conservatives change controversial wording on Muslims in draft manifesto

The Christian Democrats (CDU) have reportedly redefined their stance on Muslims in their draft party programme after it was deemed offensive.

Among the issues brought up was a sentence saying Muslims "who share our values belong to Germany".

The new draft paper, which was viewed by several German media outlets, now says "Muslims are part of Germany's religious diversity and our society" and adds: "An Islam that does not share our values and rejects our liberal society does not belong to Germany." 

However, the new draft has also been slammed. 


Aiman Mazyek, Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, told German news outlet RND it was "another attempt" by the party to "stigmatise Muslims".

"If anything, a wording that addresses all world views and religious communities would be acceptable, instead of singling out just one in particular and labelling it negatively," he said.

Integration and what is the so-called 'Leitkultur' or leading culture in Germany have been heated topics in recent years, particularly among right-wing politicians and supporters.

The German conservative CDU's new logo.

The German conservative CDU's new logo. TPhoto: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

10 arrests after raids in eight German states to target smugglers

The Düsseldorf public prosecutor's office arrested 10 suspects in a large-scale raid in eight German states against an international smuggling gang.

More than 1,000 federal police and public prosecutors have been involved in the operation that started early on Wednesday.

A total of 101 residential and business premises were searched, including two law firms, the Federal Police Directorate in Sankt Augustin near Bonn said.

Taking advantage of special rules for foreign skilled workers, the suspected smuggling gang is said to have obtained residence permits for around 350 mostly Chinese nationals in exchange for five- and six-figure euro amounts.

The raids took place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Berlin, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

Assets were also seized and evidence was searched for. According to Bild newspaper, there is also a suspicion that employees of some immigration offices were bribed.

The focus of the investigation was in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the 10 suspects were arrested.


German Foreign Minister seeks further EU sanctions against Iran drones

Germany's Foreign Minister called for the European Union to impose fresh sanctions on Iranian drone technology after Tehran's weekend attack on Israel.

The 27-nation bloc has hit Iran with a barrage of sanctions in recent years, including over its drone supplies to Russia, which has frequently used the Iranian-made weapons in its war against Ukraine.

Late Saturday, Iran used more than 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles in its unprecedented attack on Israel.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the EU had agreed on a "drone sanctions regime" last year.

"I campaigned in late autumn together with France and other partners within the European Union for this drone sanctions regime to be extended further," she said, adding she also wanted it to cover "other missile technologies in Iran's arsenal".

"I hope that we can now finally take this step together."

Baerbock will also went to Israel later on Tuesday - making her the first prominent minister to visit since Iran's attack -- to "assure our Israeli partners of Germany's full solidarity.

"We will talk about how a further escalation with more violence can be prevented."


German defence giant to build ammunition plant in Lithuania

Lithuania and German weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall agreed on Tuesday to build an ammunition plant in the Baltic state, in a new sign of Europe re-arming to counter any threat from Russia.

Germany's largest military equipment maker and the Lithuanian government signed a letter of intent to set up a factory to make 155mm artillery shells in the EU and NATO member that was once a Soviet-ruled nation.

"This will be the largest ever defence investment in Lithuania," Economy Minister Ausrine Armonaite told reporters.

"It is time for us, democracies, to step up our arsenal that is (a) prerequisite to defend freedom," Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on social media.

Lithuania is a staunch ally of Germany, which plans to deploy a brigade-sized military unit in the country until 2027 to help secure NATO's eastern flank.

Germany is also a key arms supplier to Lithuania. Purchases include PzH 2000 howitzers which use 155 mm shells that Lithuania plans to buy from the Rheinmetall plant.

With reporting by AFP


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