Libs in the U.S. will recoil in horror but the situation here and Europe is like night and day on this issue.

(Reuters) — A leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said on Thursday that Islam did not belong to Germany, remarks sure to stir controversy as the government hosts a conference to improve the integration of Muslims.

A row over whether an ultra-conservative Salafist Muslim group should be allowed to hand out millions of free German translations of the Qur’an to non-Muslims had already raised tensions and threatened to overshadow the conference.

“Islam is not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong to Germany,” Volker Kauder, head of Merkel’s conservative bloc in parliament, told the Passauer Neue Presse.

“But Muslims belong to Germany. As state citizens, of course, they enjoy their full rights.”

Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims, about half of whom have German citizenship. Many came from Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s and their hard work contributed to Germany’s post-war economic miracle. Germany’s total population is about 80 million.