A recent ruling in Germany by a judge who cited the Koran underscores the dilemma the country faces in reconciling Western values with a growing immigrant population. A disturbing number of rulings are helping to create a parallel Muslim world in Germany that is welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists. (Illustration: a new mosque being constructed in the Germany city of Duisburg).
She didn't know it, nor did she even expect it. She had good intentions. Perhaps it was a mistake. In fact, it was most certainly a mistake. The best thing to do would be to wipe the slate clean.
Last week, in the middle of the storm, Christa Datz-Winter, a judge on Frankfurt's family court, was speechless. But Bernhard Olp, a spokesman for the city's municipal court, was quick to jump in. Olp reported that the judge had been under emotional stress stemming from a murder that had been committed in her office 10 years ago, and that she was now planning to take a break to recuperate. He also mentioned that she was "outraged" -- not about herself or her scandalous ruling, but over the reactions the case has triggered.
The reactions were so fierce that one could have been forgiven for mistakenly thinking that Germany's Muslims had won the headscarf dispute and the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons in a single day and, in one fell swoop, had taken a substantial bite out of the legal foundations of Western civilization.
The ensuing media furor came from both sides of the political spectrum. The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung ran a story on the case titled: "In the Name of the People: Beating Allowed," while the right-wing tabloid Bild called it "An Outrageous Case!" The same unanimity across party lines prevailed in the political realm. "Unbearable," was conservative Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein's ruling, while Lale Akgün, a member of parliament of Turkish origin and the Social Democratic Party's representative on Islamic issues, commented that the Frankfurt judge's ruling was "worse than some backyard decision by an Islamist imam." Even the deputy head of the Green Party's parliamentary group, Hans-Christian Ströbele, noted that a German judge is obligated to uphold German law.