Former German president Christian Wulff started the ball rolling with his 2010 speech in Bremen for the 20th anniversary of German Reuinification. He was speaking on the topic of integration, and started by saying that where one comes from is, of course, an important part of one's identity, but then he delved a bit deeper. A clear position is what he insisted was necessary, and his stance was that being German shouldn't depend on a passport, who one's family is, or most importantly on one's religious beliefs.
Wulff assured the audience, as well as the nation, that Germany was a Judeo-Christian country, but in the same breath, he stated that Islam belonged to Germany, as well. It should come as no surprise that this ignited a firestorm of response. Many have insisted that although Islamic people have played an integral part in the development of the German nation, that it would be a stretch to equate Islam's influence with that of Christianity, and by extension Judaism.
As it turns out Germany's new president Joachim Gauck has corrected what was seen by some as a misstep by simply stating what his predecessor was trying to say to begin with. Because the original statement was worded so oddly, Mr Gauck was forced to both reiterate the sentiment, while simultaneously clarifying it. He did it by saying that Muslims who live here belong to Germany. Those who are here have made a significant contribution, and belong here. That was the point to begin with.
Although it is possible that Christian Wulff felt he had to say something in response to the controversy that Thilo Sarrazin had caused with the release of his book 'Deutschland schafft sich ab' ('Germany Is Doing Away With Itself' or 'Germany Is Aboloshing Itself'), for some Germans it was an empty gesture. As of now, Joachim Gauck, who happens to be the man who many believe should have become German president instead of Christian Wulff in the first place, is the steady hand necessary to guide the German state through this particularly sensitive issue.
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