Germany shouldn't take in a single Jew hater anymore. The FDP believes that more attention should be paid to this when naturalizing – and suggests checking for anti-Semitic attitudes.
"Anyone who wants to become German must share the values of the Basic Law," says FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai WELT about his initiative. Memberships in anti-constitutional organizations are to be checked, as is participation in anti-Semitic protests. Djir-Sarai wants to integrate this into the existing naturalization tests. The “Bild” newspaper first reported on his plan.
The traffic light coalition wants to make naturalization easier. In the future, there should be a right to naturalization after five years of residence in Germany, and after three years in the case of special integration achievements. The limit is currently eight years. In addition, naturalized persons should be able to keep a possible second citizenship. The Federal Ministry of the Interior is currently preparing a draft law on this.
The Liberals want to influence this. "Three aspects are important to us: mastering the German language, financing one's own livelihood and the values of the Basic Law," says Djir-Sarai. "There must be no discussion on issues such as racism, anti-Semitism or equality between men and women."
As early as 2021, the grand coalition tightened the naturalization law for this. Anyone who has been convicted of an anti-Semitic or racist offense should be denied naturalization – even in the case of so-called petty offences.
The background to this was the protests on the occasion of military conflicts in the Middle East conflict, during which anti-Semitic slogans were also shouted in Germany, attacks on Israel were called for in Arabic and flags of the Jewish state were burned.
The Union therefore declines. One is pleased that the FDP is referring to an old initiative by the Union, which has long since been implemented in 2021, says parliamentary group leader Andrea Lindholz (CSU) WELT. "Even against the background of German history, the naturalization test must also be an anti-Semitism test," says Lindholz.
In the naturalization test, questions are also asked about the Basic Law and the political system of the Federal Republic. In 2021, the Interior Committee called on the federal government to add questions on anti-Semitism, Israel's right to exist and Judaism. In addition, the topics should be part of the orientation courses of the integration courses and teachers should be trained accordingly. When asked by WELT, the Ministry of the Interior confirmed that it intends to implement this soon.
Anyone wishing to obtain German citizenship must also commit to the free democratic basic order – i.e. human dignity and equality before the law. According to Nancy Faeser's (SPD) ministry, it is already possible to revise naturalizations if any misanthropic acts were concealed in surveys.
In the current draft of the new naturalization law, it is planned to explicitly establish in legal terms that other anti-Semitic acts are incompatible with the guarantee of human dignity, says a spokeswoman for WELT.
The Jewish Student Union supports the FDP initiative. "If you honestly want to fight anti-Semitism, then you shouldn't naturalize anyone who has anti-Semitic sentiments," says President Anna Staroselski. "The much-cited historical responsibility affects everyone who lives here," says Staroselski. This must be taken into account in the naturalization test, “even apart from yes/no questions”. Staroselski is a member of the FDP.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany is also open. "The idea is a real food for thought," says Central Council President Josef Schuster WELT. "We now have to examine how this can be implemented."
The Liberals' traffic light partners, on the other hand, found little support for the proposal. When it comes to anti-Semitism, focusing on those without German citizenship is a "diversion strategy," says Marlene Schönberger, who is responsible for anti-Semitism in the Greens parliamentary group. "At least a quarter of all people living in Germany have openly or latently anti-Semitic attitudes."
She does not consider the FDP proposal to be effective in countering this. "In any case, a commitment to the Basic Law and to the free-democratic basic order is a prerequisite for naturalization," says Schönberger.
"Do you want to play already marginalized groups against each other?" tweeted Lamya Kaddor, domestic policy spokeswoman for the Greens. She called the FDP's proposal "absurd" and only referring to hatred of Jews was "dangerous".
The FDP is not demanding anything that is not already in the law or is not planned, says Hakan Demir (SPD), his parliamentary group's rapporteur on the subject, with a view to the Interior Ministry's draft bill. A separate test is not required.
The left faction is also opposed to the proposal. "Anti-Semitism is indeed a big problem in Germany," says legal policy spokeswoman Clara Bünger. "However, depicting it as imported downplays the debate." The FDP's move put certain groups under general suspicion.
According to Bünger, many more measures are needed against hatred of Jews, for example through educational work and also in the naturalization process. "In my view, tests are more political cosmetics than real will to tackle the problem as a whole," says the left-wing MP.
Djir-Sarai does not want to accept the allegations. These are legitimate and necessary questions. "In the USA or Canada, it goes without saying that people ask for it," says Djir-Sarai. "Only with us does it trigger debates about an alleged general suspicion."
The AfD, on the other hand, is open-minded – and goes even further. "No one may be naturalized whose values are not compatible with the Basic Law and our culture," said Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the parliamentary group. A list of organizations must be drawn up. Anyone who is a member there or has a “personal closeness” should be excluded from naturalization. As examples, von Storch cites the Islamist Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon or Ditib mosque communities, but also the left-wing Kurdish PKK.
"Kick-off" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, among others, or directly via RSS feed.