This is clearly discrimination. Why don't they give everyone a loyalty test? And, I can imagine the hue and cry if we were to do the same thing.
Before a country accords citizenship to an immigrant, its authorities have to be satisfied that the new citizen would be law-abiding. Here is how Baden-Württemberg phrases it in its information webpage for prospective immigrants. (my translation)
For each naturalization, the following conditions must be met:
There must be no actual indications of any present or past efforts that are extremist or directed against the constitution. Impeding a naturalization are efforts that are
- directed against the free and democratic fundamental order [of Germany, T.]
- directed against the existence or the security of the federation or a state
- aiming to unlawfully impede the administration of the constitutional organs of the federation, a state, or one of its [the constitutional organ's, T.] members.
- endanger the external affairs of the federation through violent acts or the preparation thereof.
Source (in German, click on "Einbürgerung" to get to the text):
The text lists two other conditions that must be met before an immigration. Without translating them in detail, immigrants must speak German well enough to "find ones way in daily life, [...] and have a conversation corresponding to their age and education." Moreover, they have to give up their old citizenship.
Nothing about this is unique to Baden-Württemberg, or even to Germany. When I applied for my American Green Card, I had to fill out a form that contained questions like these: "Between 1933 and 1945, were you involved in the killing of any Jews?" (Just for background, I was born in 1969.) Here is another one: "Are you, or have you ever been, a communist, an anarchist, an islamist, or a member of any other extremist movement?" When I came to Frankfurt to have my interview at the American consulate, an extra question had been stamped into the form: "Once you enter the United States, do you intend to commit any terrorist assaults?" (All these quotes are from memory. My paperwork is filed in my apartment, and I am currently at my parents' house.)
It is obvious on its face that the American approach won't filter out a lot of troublemakers. Officials can't identify them by asking such sweeping, easy-to-lie-about form questions. Hence it makes sense that in Germany, the authorities try to find out the same information through interviews. Questions in oral interviews are less predictable, and they allow the interviewer to tailor his inquiry more narrowly to the individual immigrant. For example, when my Russian piano teacher immigrated in the late 80s, she was asked some questions aiming to find out whether she was a communist. (It wouldn't make sense to ask an Arab that
.) Likewise, when the immigrant comes from an Arabian country, the authorities will ask some questions to find out whether he is an Islamist. (This
line of questioning wouldn't have made sense for my Jewish piano teacher from Moscow.)
What I think
Lash's story is about is that Baden-Württemberg's ministry of the interior updated its catalogue of questions designed to test the constitutional loyalty of immigrating Turks and Arabs. A sloppy reporter then failed to research the background of German immigration law, and cooked up as a scandal what little she had found out about the new bye-law.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Lash's source is the Daily Telegraph, a British paper notorious for its sloppy research and its consistent anti-German slant. It is the same paper that falsely reported early last year that jobless Germans must accept brothels' job openings for prostitutes. So while this new story probably has a lot of hogwash in it, at least it's progress.