BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Bavarian allies have called for tougher immigration rules in Germany that favour migrants from Europe's "Christian-occidental cultural sphere", according to a party paper seen by AFP on Thursday.
The CSU party also has demanded a ban on the Muslim full-face and partial-face veils, an end to dual citizenship, iron-clad rules that newcomers socially integrate and learn German as well as an upper limit of 200,000 asylum seekers a year. The party -- which has long and fervently attacked Merkel's liberal stance on refugees that welcomed a million asylum seekers into the EU's top economy last year -- plans to present the paper at a meeting starting Friday.
The move comes days after the right-wing populist and anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) beat Merkel's party in a state vote, and about a year before Germany expects to hold national elections. Merkel, whose long-stellar approval ratings have taken a dive amid the refugee crisis, on Wednesday warned all political parties against a race to the bottom where they adopt the rhetoric of the anti-Islam AfD.
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But her coalition allies the CSU, based in the deeply conservative and mainly Catholic southern Bavaria region, did not pull their punches in the five-page paper. "Germany must stay Germany," declared the paper. "We are against our welcoming country being changed through migration and waves of refugees."
A mass influx like the one seen a year ago, when tens of thousands of refugees a day entered Germany through Bavaria, "must under no circumstances be repeated," it argued. From now, demanded the CSU, Germany must set an upper limit of accepting 200,000 refugees a year and otherwise give preference to migrants "from our Christian-occidental cultural sphere".
It added that "a state must decide by itself whom it accepts -- it's not the migrants who decide". It also wants to ban the full-face covering burqa, calling it "a uniform of Islamism, a huge barrier to integration and a symbol of the repression of women that is unacceptable in our culture". "Those who don't want to live without the burqa and niqab should find another country."
The party also reiterated its long-standing opposition to admitting Turkey to the EU, or granting its citizens eased visa conditions to the bloc as part of a deal to halt the refugee flows to Europe. The paper echoes some of the key demands of the AfD and even the far-right street movement Pegida, short for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, both of which have grown in popularity amid the refugee influx.
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Crimes against foreigners -- including assaults, online hate speech and arson attacks against refugee shelters -- have meanwhile risen sharply in Germany. The number of "physical and verbal attacks" against Muslims has increased "in an unprecedented way", said the head of the advocacy group Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek.
Attacks against mosques and their congregations had multiplied from, as had racial slurs spread on social media, he told the Welt daily. Mazyek also defended Merkel against claims her liberal migrant policy was to blame for the rise of the AfD, which is now represented on the opposition benches of nine of Germany's 16 state assemblies.
"Those who blame the chancellor's refugee policies alone for the AfD's poll success ignore the deep rooted racist resentments in our society," he said. Since the 9/11 extremist attacks in the United States, Mazyek argued, the "dividing line" between Islam and extremism had been blurred in public debate, adding that the AfD "has been the most savvy in turning this mood into votes."