BERLIN - A leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives said on Thursday that Islam did not belong to Germany, remarks sure to stir controversy as the government hosts a conference to improve the integration of Muslims.
A row over whether an ultra-conservative Salafist Muslim group should be allowed to hand out millions of free German translations of the Koran to non-Muslims had already raised tensions and threatened to overshadow the conference.
"Islam is not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong to Germany," Volker Kauder, head of Merkel's conservative bloc in parliament, told the Passauer Neue Presse.
"But Muslims belong to Germany. As state citizens, of course, they enjoy their full rights."