Merkel urges Germans: stand up for Christian values

Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:15pm EST
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans debating Muslim integration to stand up more for Christian values, saying Monday the country suffered not from "too much Islam" but "too little Christianity."

Addressing her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, she said she took the current public debate in Germany on Islam and immigration very seriously. As part of this debate, she said last month that multiculturalism there had utterly failed.

Some of her conservative allies have gone further, calling for an end to immigration from "foreign cultures" -- a reference to Muslim countries like Turkey -- and more pressure on immigrants to integrate into German society.

Merkel told the CDU annual conference in Karlsruhe that the debate about immigration "especially by those of the Muslim faith" was an opportunity for the ruling party to stand up confidently for its convictions.

"We don't have too much Islam, we have too little Christianity. We have too few discussions about the Christian view of mankind," she said to applause from the hall.

Germany needs more public discussion "about the values that guide us (and) about our Judeo-Christian tradition," she said. "We have to stress this again with confidence, then we will also be able to bring about cohesion in our society."

References to the CDU's Christian roots and "Christian view of mankind" are standard in party convention speeches, but the phrases have become more frequent in recent months as Germany has been gripped by a heated debate over Islam and immigration.