German church and state clash in asylum row
Friday 01 August 1997
In an interview published yesterday in church newspapers, the justice minister, Edzard Schmidt-Jorzig, accused the ecclesiastical authorities of overstepping the law. The churches, he said, were wrong to provide sanctuary to foreigners escaping deportation. "In a constitutional state the decision about asylum is the exclusive domain of independent courts," the minister thundered.
In recent weeks, there has been a spate of highly-publicised protest actions against the way foreigners are bundled out of the country. In the most spectacular rebellion so far, 35 Benedictine nuns sat down in the middle of the road last week, preventing police from taking away a family they were sheltering in their convent. They had fled from the Ukraine, where the father had deserted from the navy. He had argued that a prison sentence was awaiting him back home, but because Ukraine is not regarded as a country which persecutes its citizens, his application for asylum was turned down.
The man, his wife and their five-year-old daughter then sought shelter in the convent. The hapless policemen sent to arrest the family fled in terror when threatened with hellfire, and the plane bound for Ukraine was forced to take off without three of its passengers.
The government is furious, and threatening to hit the churches where it hurts most. Religion is nourished from taxes, an arrangement with which Mr Schmidt-Jorzig professes to be "not very happy".
"The churches can easily become out of touch with ... members of their community when they are not directly financed by them, but by convenient taxes distributed by the state," he said. In other words, take heed.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...