‘Only sausages’: Germans ridicule interior minister’s ‘dominant culture’ idea for integration
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere faced a barrage of ironic tweets from people on social media after trying to explain the main principles of German “Leitkultur,” or dominant culture, amid discussions about immigration and integration.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière got into hot water after German newspaper Bild released his top 10 principles of Germany’s Leitkultur – which may be roughly translated as a “dominant culture” or “leading culture.”
A focal point in de Maizière’s vision of German culture is what he called a “certain attitude,” explained through a number of examples:
“We [in Germany] say our name, we shake our hands to greet each other…” We show our faces. We are not the burqa,” de Maizière wrote, in what he called an effort to stimulate further dialog on migrants’ integration in society.
The publication has sparked a heated debate among people on social media with some of them frankly mocking the pieces of German identity outlined by de Maizière.
The hashtag “Leitkultur” has been among the most popular in on Twitter in Germany since Sunday, with hundreds of people chipping in to try to define being German.
A person from the Bavaria’s capital Munich noted that sausages will always be a priority for people in Germany.
“Sausages. Only sausages. Sausages are above all,” her ironic tweet says, referring to a dish widely associated with Germany.
Wurst. Einfach nur Wurst. Wurst über alles. #Leitkultur— Fraeulein Bruenett (@Frl_Bruenett) April 30, 2017
Another user has been alarmed when his family didn’t shake hands with him before breakfast, though the interior minister stressed that this is what Germans do.
“No one wanted to shake hands with me at breakfast. Now I’m thinking if I could deport my family,” he wrote.
Niemand wollte mir heute am Frühstückstisch die Hand geben. Überlege, ob ich meine Familie nicht ausweisen lassen kann. #Leitkultur— Christian Jakubetz (@cjakubetz) May 2, 2017
Others noted that being a German means wearing socks with sandals, proving it with photos.
“When an interior minister starts talking about a leading culture, it’s often a suffering culture,” a tweet noted
Others, however, took a more serious tone, suggesting that de Maiziere’s comments were a dangerous incitement against Muslims and no election goals can justify this move.
Katja Kipping from the Left Party (Die Linke) said that the move was simply aimed at distracting people's attention.
“Debates about German Leitkultur is a beloved distracting maneuver. They are distracting us from what is really important, for example the fight against poverty,” Kipping wrote.
Debatten um deutsche #Leitkultur sind ein beliebtes Ablenkungsmanöver. Sie lenken ab von dem, was wirklich dringend ist wie Kampf gg Armut.— Katja Kipping (@katjakipping) May 2, 2017
Greens party member Juergen Trittin called a partial ban on the full face veil, recently introduced by the German parliament (Bundestag) “pure right-wing, cheap propaganda.” He accompanied his tweet with the Leitkultur hashtag and a pie graph, showing that no one except right-wing populists would benefit from the burqa ban.
His colleague Jamila Schaefer believes that defining people by their homeland is the wrong approach.
“A society is always changing – and one of the reasons for that is migration,” Schaefer said. “I don't think finding a way to live together peacefully is about preserving one culture,” she said, according to DW.
The chairwoman of Alternative for Germany (AfD), Frauke Petry, however, supported de Maiziere by wondering whether his critics would prefer to see “10 principles of Sharia,” adding that those “who reject Leitkultur should ask themselves whether it goes according to the constitution.”
Syrian-German political scientist Bassam Tibi came up with the term “Leitkultur” in the 1990s. It was not attributed specifically to German culture, but rather to European values in general, including human rights and democracy.