Merkel's conservatives toughen tone on integrating migrants in Germany

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2016 8:25 AM

By Paul Carrel

ESSEN, Germany (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives toughened their tone on integrating migrants on Wednesday, debating a resolution on tackling forced marriage and honor 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 honor 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 honor 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 anti-migrant 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 center-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. Mass-selling 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.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)