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German archbishop's comment on families offends Muslims

Published on Jan 30, 2014 12:55 AM

BERLIN (AFP) - A German Catholic leader was forced to apologise Wednesday over comments that sparked indignation among the country's Muslim community and proponents of a multicultural society.

Cologne Archbishop Joachim Meisner, 80, had praised the high birth rate of many Catholics, telling followers: "I always say, one of your families to me makes up for three Muslim families".

Bekir Alboga of the Turkish-Islamic Union Ditib said the comments promote "fear and misunderstanding", telling broadcaster Deutsche Welle that "we need a bridge-builder, not a polariser." Many politicians also strongly rejected the comments, among them Sylvia Loehrmann, state education minister of North Rhine-Westphalia where Cologne is located.

"Rating the relative value of families and therefore children by origin or religious affiliation not only violates our constitution, it is also anything but Christian," she said.

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