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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

German ambassador discusses European social climate

Published: October 12, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

In honor of the 10th annivery of the Center for German and European Studies (CGES), the department sponsored a program this week on Muslim integration in Europe.

The discussion on Wednesday afternoon included a wide range of Brandeis community members. Klaus Schariott, the German ambassador to the United States provided the keynote address and a discussion panel followed. Attendees were able to ask questions of both the ambassador and the members of the panel on the current situation of Muslims in Europe.

Executive Director of the Center of German and European Studies, Sabine Von Mering, stated that one of the reasons for the event was as a celebration of the ten year anniversary of the department. Von Mering said, we chose the topic of Muslims in Europe because there is a lot of fear and ignorance on the subject, especially involving the topic of terrorism. She went on to state that the programs title Spotlight on Muslims in Europe: Putting Aside Fear and Ignorance, was a reflection of this sentiment.

Von Mering also emphasized the Centers desire to give people more knowledge about the subject. Hopefully, the event will give people detailed background information on the real situation of Muslims in Europe.

The program commenced at 2:30 P.M., with dozens of community members having arrived at the Rapaporte Treasure Hall for the talks. The German ambassador, Klaus Schariott, was the first to speak and gave an overview of the topic at hand.

His talk centered on what he perceived to be the four pillars of German foreign policy: European integration, multilateralism, an emphasis on the state of Israel and transatlantic cooperation.

The first principle that the ambassador discussed was European integration. Ambassador Schariott explained that this undertaking is the most successful project of peaceful social change ever. Schariott then discussed his desire to enhance transatlantic cooperation and understanding, noting the success of the CGES center at Brandeis.

The ambassador went on to talk about the global fight against climate change and the necessity to keep a multilateral approach to large international problems. History has shown, explained Schariott, that whenever even a strong nation has done something on a world-wide scale by itself, it has failed. Finally, the ambassador talked about Germanys commitment to the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

After his speech, the ambassador answered questions on the current state of affairs in Germany. The topics discussed involved the birthrate in that nation, and the problem of assimilating immigrants into society.

A professor asked the ambassador about a recent judicial opinion involving a divorcee from an abusive husband where the judge controversially cited the Koran in her opinion. Others asked questions outside of the scope of Germany, specifically inquiring about the potential membership of Turkey into the European Union.

Students had varied reasons for attending the event this Wednesday. Nick Brown 10 attended because of the information he hoped to receive. I hope to learn a bit more about Germany and U.S.-German relations commented Brown. He also explained he thought that its important for the University to have such a notable dignitary come to speak.

Rajiv Ramakrishnan '10 cited other reasons for his attendance. I just came from Europe and it piqued my interest, explained Ramakrishnan. He also explained that he is in a class on Europe, and the professor invited the entire class.

In an interview before his speech, Ambassador Schariott said Brandeis, has always been good at promoting mutual understanding on both sides of the Atlantic and we have always tried to help Brandeis in that effort. He also stated that the topic of Muslims in Europe is really important because I believe we have to integrate all parts of society into our society.