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German Police v Muslims: Xenophobia or Uncertainty?

German law enforcement has come under fire for a recent incident involving the removal of a child from the custody of his Muslim family. There is much speculation about what warranted such a harsh response, but the situation is rather murky.

What We Know?

German Youth Welfare officers, accompanied by German police officials, were filmed forcefully dragging a screaming child out of his home while his family begged them not to do so. Many reports said the child’s removal from custody was because he belonged to a Muslim family and was taught Islam does not tolerate homosexuality.

None of these reports is confirmed, however, and German police have released a statement denying these reports while keeping the actual reason for the removal a secret to protect the child and the family.

What Does German Law State?

While no provision under German law addresses anti-LGBT specifically, the German Criminal Code does forbid discrimination and hate speech against certain groups, under which grouping based on sexual orientation is also included. However, parents also have the right to educate their children according to their religious beliefs.

It then becomes a question of when that education may lead to hate speech. Suppose the parents only teach their children that homosexuality is something they are personally required to avoid according to their religion. In that case, there should be no pushback from the government as this relates to their individual preferences, and parents would have no legal right to bar their children from living their lives the way they see fit past adulthood.

But if these parents teach their children that people in same-sex relationships are bad and develop a hatred for such people, then it becomes rather problematic. But this still does not mean that the Youth Welfare office may cease the child’s custody as soon as this is proven. That is a rather complicated subject of its own.

Removal from Custody in Germany

German Youth Welfare works on an intricately designed system for protecting their children. Multiple steps must be followed after a child’s undergarment is reported. The only situations where a child is immediately removed from custody are cases of physical or sexual abuse. Apart from this, many steps are taken, including counselling for the child and the family, monetary family support, extensive investigations, consensual temporary removal, and finally, forced removal from the family custody, which may only be done on the direction of the court. It is also necessary to understand that this process exists only to prevent “child endangerment”. It would be difficult to convince the court that religious education may be considered child endangerment.

In 2021, German Youth Welfare removed 4500 Muslim children from their parent’s custody. It is easy to look at this number and think that Muslims are specifically targeted in Germany until the total number of children removed in 2021 is 28,000. Without substantive proof of the reason behind the incident, one should not jump to conclusions.

There is also a reason why Germany does not take the matter of child custody lightly. During the Second World War, thousands of children were forcefully adopted to further the aims of a so-called “superior race”. Xenophobia is a very sensitive topic in Germany. And regardless of this, in a country in which the branches of the state are as well established as in Germany, such singling out of a group of people is not quite as simple as such a thing may seem in our country, where there is little to no regulation with regards how the government and government organizations carry out their business.

The best course of action in this matter would be to either wait for an official explanation of the situation or to carry out actual research into the issue of child custody removals, and if a pattern is identified pointing towards discrimination against Muslims, or any group for that matter, then at the very least the outrage would be justified. Aimless and baseless accusations against an entire country will achieve nothing in the long or short term other than hype. And hype exists only to die off as quickly as it emerges.

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