CAIRO - The justice minister of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate has been facing fierce criticism from different politicians over his recent remarks about the possibility of applying Shari`ah laws in Germany in civil cases related to Muslim marriage and divorce, Der Spiegel reported on Friday, February 3.
"It is inconceivable that a justice minister fosters such ideas," said Stephan Mayer, a parliamentarian for the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.
"There is no room in Germany for Islamic law, added Mayer, a legal expert, demanding Hartloff's resignation.
The Shari`ah is barbarous and inhuman in all its forms."
The fury was first sparked after Jochen Hartloff, justice minister of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said in an interview with the Berlin tabloid BZ that Shari`ah law, in a "modern form," would be acceptable in Germany.
These comments were repeated in his comments published later on Friday, February 3, in the center-left daily SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung.
Islamic moral code "is certainly conceivable when it comes to questions pertaining to civil law," Hartloff, a politician from the center-left Social Democrats, said.
Though he made it clear that he was referring specifically to family law issues such as divorce settlements and alimony, reactions have not been entirely supportive.
"German courts are here responsible for the law, JÃ¶rg-Uwe Hahn, the justice minister in the state of Hesse, told the mass-circulation tabloid Bild.
We don't need special Islamic courts."
In Islam, Shari`ah governs all issues in Muslims' lives from daily prayers to fasting and from, marriage and inheritance to financial disputes.
The Islamic rulings, however, do not apply on non-Muslims, even if in a dispute with non-Muslims.
If Germany were to introduce parts of Shari`ah law, it wouldn't be the first European country to do so.
Shari`ah councils have long been operational in Britain, most often focusing on issues dealing with marriage and divorce. These courts also exist in parts of Greece.
Despite initial criticism, Hartloff's suggestion was welcomed by some German politicians as serving integration of Muslims inside the community.
"That can ultimately serve the cause of integration," Michael Frieser, expert on integration issues for conservatives in German parliament, told SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung.
Frieser said he has nothing against immigrants seeking judgments according to the legal systems they are used to.
He added that Muslim justices could perhaps be used to prepare the groundwork for a civil law judgment.
Aiman Mazyek, from the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, praised Hartloff's suggestion.
Mazyek called the suggestion as a way to better "pacify parties to a dispute long-term," The Local reported.
Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5 percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.
Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
The controversy was spurred in 2009 by central banker Thilo Sarrazin, who accused Muslim immigrants of undermining the society which is becoming less intelligent because of them.
Chancellor Merkel weighed in, saying that multiculturalism has failed in Germany.
But the remarks have drawn angry reactions, with German president Christian Wulff stressing that Islam is part and parcel of German society.
German politicians have also called for recognizing Islam as an official religion in the Christian-majority country.