Feature

Germany: An ideological test for citizenship

The state of Baden-Württemberg has finally abolished the embarrassing “attitude test,” the last German state to do so, said Roland Preuss at Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Roland PreussSüddeutsche Zeitung

No longer will a foreigner seeking to become a German citizen have to answer probing questions about what he would do if his daughter were raped, said Roland Preuss. The state of Baden-Württemberg has finally abolished the embarrassing “attitude test,” the last German state to do so.

For years, prospective citizens have been asked a series of ideologically loaded questions—such as “Would you vote for an openly gay politician?”—designed to determine whether the applicant shared the values of the German constitution. Of course, the test was aimed at keeping out Muslims whose beliefs were deemed to be at odds with Germany’s understanding of human rights. But there was never any proof that the test succeeded in keeping out extremists: After all, “any potential terrorist would just lie, since it was abundantly obvious what answer the agency wanted to hear.” All the questions did was indicate to applicants that their new land was biased against their belief system.

What a welcome change, then, that Baden-Württemberg has joined the other 15 German states in simply requiring immigrants to take a citizenship course that teaches “the rights and responsibilities of Germans—and trusting that freedom will work its magic.”

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