Chancellor Angela Merkel's hardline new interior minister declared that Islam is "not part of Germany" in an interview published Friday, setting off a political storm two days into her fourth term.
Asked by the top-selling Bild daily whether the influx of Muslim migrants and asylum seekers to Europe's top economy over the past several decades meant that Islam now belonged to the fabric of the nation, Horst Seehofer replied "no".
"Islam is not part of Germany. Christianity has shaped Germany including Sunday as a day of rest, church holidays, and rituals such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas," he said.
"The Muslims who live among us are naturally part of Germany. But that of course does not mean that we, out of a false sense of deference, should sacrifice our traditions and customs."