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CDU toughens tone on integrating migrants – Police arrest Iraqi rape suspect

German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the CDU, Angela Merkel, gestures during her speech as part of a general party conference of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Essen, Germany on Dec 6. Merkel wants to secure the backing of her conservative party to head up the party’s campaign for next September’s election. (AP)

ESSEN, Germany, Dec 7, (Agencies): German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives toughened their tone on integrating migrants on Wednesday, debating a resolution on tackling forced marriage and honour killings under the motto: “Our values. Our future.” A day after Merkel called for a ban on full-face Muslim veils “wherever legally possible”, the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) stressed the values they want migrants to adopt. “Forced marriage and honour killings must be prevented and prosecuted rigorously,” read the resolution debated by CDU delegates at a party conference in Essen, western Germany. The interior and justice ministries could not immediately give figures on any forced marriages or honour killings among the record 890,000 people from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere who arrived in Germany last year. Ahead of next year’s federal election, the CDU is trying to mend fences with its Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which is tougher on immigration, to try to claw back support lost to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Jens Spahn, a deputy finance minister and senior CDU member, told Deutschlandfunk radio that some of the migrants who have arrived in Germany were young men with “very repressed sexual morality” and a “strange view of women”. His comments touched on popular concerns about integrating migrants. This week, German police detained an Iraqi migrant for suspected rape only days after an Afghan refugee was held in a separate rape and murder case.

The two cases threaten to fan antimigrant sentiment in Germany, which has seen support grow for the anti-immigrant AfD while Merkel’s popularity has suffered. In a sign of how Germany’s “Willkommenskultur”, or welcoming culture, has faded since migrants arrived last year, Spahn called for legal barriers to be lowered to facilitate the deportation of migrants who do not qualify to stay in Germany.

“Those who are not refugees, who are not fleeing from Iraq or Syria from war and persecution, must return to their homelands — and that needs to be done consistently,” he said. An Emnid poll on Sunday showed support for the CDU and the CSU at a 10-month high of 37 percent, 15 points ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). Merkel was re-elected chairwoman of the CDU by 89.5 percent of the delegates present on Tuesday, down from 96.7 percent two years ago. Massselling daily newspaper Bild dubbed the winning margin “Merkel’s little victory”. Her lowest winning score in election as chairwoman was 88.4 percent in 2004.

Meanwhile, Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party voted Wednesday in favor of scrapping rules that allow the children of immigrants to be dual citizens, a call that was opposed by party leaders and met with a swift rebuke from its partners in government. Until two years ago, German-born children of immigrants from outside the European Union or Switzerland had to pick one nationality between ages 18 to 23 — a rule largely affecting Germany’s Turkish community. Merkel’s current center-left coalition partners, the Social Democrats, insisted on dropping the requirement as part of their price for entering the government after Germany’s 2013 election.

That was never popular with Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union. Delegates at a convention in Essen narrowly backed a motion from the party’s youth wing that advocated returning to the old system. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had argued against the motion, noting that no potential coalition partner after next year’s election would agree to it. Wednesday’s decision appears to reflect a desire among some CDU members for a sharper conservative profile.

Merkel has sought to cater to that by promising that last year’s huge migrant influx won’t be repeated, backing a partial ban on face-covering veils and calls for tougher rules on deportation. Merkel’s party leads in polls, but would likely have to turn to one of two left-leaning rivals or a socially liberal pro-business party to form a government. It says it won’t ally with the upstart nationalist Alternative for Germany, which has thrived in polls by attacking Merkel’s policies in the migrant crisis and has backed conservative positions dumped by the CDU.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a Social Democrat, said that toughening the dual citizenship rules would be “a gigantic setback for integration.” He said his party wouldn’t agree to such a move. Next year’s polls will “not be a walk in the park” as Germany is deeply polarised, noted Merkel.0, but urged the population to remain “sceptical about easy answers”.

Police arrest Iraqi rape suspect
German police have detained an Iraqi migrant for suspected rape only days after an Afghan refugee was held in a separate rape and murder case, and the government warned against a political backlash to such crimes.

The two cases threaten to fan antimigrant sentiment in Germany, which saw a record 890,000 people from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere arrive last year. The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has grown in support while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity has suffered.

Police said on Tuesday the Iraqi, 31, was detained in his refugee hostel on Monday on suspicion of raping a Chinese student and attempting to rape another in the western city of Bochum. The 17-year-old Afghan was detained on Friday on suspicion of raping and murdering a 19-year-old German student as she cycled home from a party in the southwestern city of Freiburg.

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