I will name several German policies that make impression the government is striving to prevent inter-ethnic mixing:

  • There are lists of permitted names for each ethnicity. One cannot take or give their children a name of their wish which is not listed as permitted.

  • All people have their religion registered and the believers have to belong to a church or another religious organization.

  • There is a church tax, famously imposed on Christians and Jews but not on Muslims which discourages them from converting.

  • When immigrating to Germany (for instance as a Jewish refugee from the former USSR), atheists are not allowed. Each ethnic Jew is required to get registered at a synagoge. Christian Jews are also not allowed.

  • Muslim refugees are not allowed to convert from Islam into Christianity in refugee camps, if they violate, they are deported back to their countries.

  • To emigrate to Germany one has to prove either German or Jewish blood. Only pre-1991 papers are accepted because some post-Soviet countries allow to change the registered ethnicity according the self-identification. This reminds Nazi Germany where one had to prove their German blood with pre-1871 papers.

Why such policies are conducted?

  • 7
    Some evidence would be appreciated! – hkBst May 23 '19 at 12:22
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    blogs.loc.gov/law/2017/08/naming-laws-in-germany - Nothing here about ethnically limited name lists. Wikipedia says there were such list during the Nazi era, specifically for Jewish and Non-Jewish ethnicity. – Jontia May 23 '19 at 12:32
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    @Anixx: that link says exactly the opposite of your point 1. "The legal regulations regarding first names are often more generous if one or both parents come from abroad. Naming rules prevelant in the respective country of origin can be, but do not necessarily have to be taken into consideration." – Denis de Bernardy May 23 '19 at 12:38
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    As ethnic Jewish atheist, born in Sowjet Union, not a member of any jewish community, now German citizen, i call BS on that question. Also names are restricted, but only to protect children - whatever that means - and there are many ridicule names like Tverdohleb (russian for "hard bread") that are still allowed. Learned that by choosing name for my daughter... – Mikey May 23 '19 at 12:57
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    @Mikey: by "protecting children" they mean disallowing to call their babies "Khaleesi" or "Donald Trump". – Denis de Bernardy May 23 '19 at 13:01

There is a kernel of truth in most bullet points, but they get distorted through an incomplete understanding of the German system.

  • In Germany, children must be given a name of the appropriate gender.
    • Giving a name of the wrong gender or a word that is not a name at all would be considered child abuse.
    • This name may come from any ethnic group, but if the registrar is unfamiliar with the name the parents may be asked to substantiate that it is a name of the appropriate gender. (For instance, in Italy Andrea is a male name, in Germany it is a female name.)
    • German parents can name their son Mohammed if they want, but they cannot name him Aisha or Sarah.
  • Some but not all organized churches collect membership fees through the tax office. This requires taxpayers to state their church membership.

    • Note that this is about membership, not faith or belief.
    • Not all Christian and Jewish churches participate in this system, and church membership is distinct from belief.
    • In a similar vein, and not mentioned by you, there is optional religious education in public schools. Only Lutherans and Catholics have anything near complete coverage, other faiths remain special cases.
    • Same for clergy in the armed forces. This may be slowly changing.
    • It is indeed interesting that so far no Muslim church has entered a similar agreement. Getting German Muslims organized that way would greatly benefit their integration.
  • Due to the aftermath of WWII, Germany allows immigration by the descendants of ethnic Germans and by Jews from the former Soviet Union. This is seen as a gesture of apology for the Nazi genocide.

    • Other groups will have to go through the normal route, either an application for asylum/refugee status or for an immigrant work permit, followed by naturalization after some years.
    • I'm not aware of any case where conversion by itself has led to deportation. It doesn't stop deportation, however, and it may be seen as a ploy to gain residency status.
      There is a quote by a Bavarian politician that said approximately "the worst is a soccer-playing altar server from Senegal who has been here three years, we'll never get him deported."
  • I don't understand the relevance of the quote from the Bavarian politician. Worst what? – gerrit May 24 '19 at 11:32
  • @gerrit, the CSU wants to limit the influx of refugees and deport all those who have no ironclad case for asylum/protection in Germany. To them, good refugees are those who can be deported, bad refugees are those who cannot. And a kid several years in a Bavarian village, active in the soccer club and the local catholic parish, even CSU voters do not want to import him. – o.m. May 24 '19 at 12:49

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