First the German CDU does something very positive in appointing the Turkish-born Aygül Özkan as the minister for social affairs in the state of Lower Saxony, and then they immediately express buyer's remorse when Frau Özkan quite rationally asked for religious symbols to be taken out of public schools in Germany:
School should be a neutral place," said Ozkan, 38, adding that the Islamic headscarf should also not be worn in class.
She is expected Tuesday to become the first female state minister of Turkish origin, as a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The premier of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, also CDU, reacted immediately, saying: "The regional executive considers religious symbols, especially the cross, to be the sign of a tolerant education, based on Christian values."
Others reacted with more vigour. Stefan Mueller, from the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, described Ozkan's remarks as "so absurd, it's scary."
"Politicians who want to ban crucifixes in schools should consider whether they really have a place in a Christian Democratic party," he added.
According to media reports, she has received death threats and has been placed under police protection.
There is no mystery where the death threats are coming from. The hate blog Politically Incorrect called Frau Özkan "Muslim Trojan Horse", the "Catholic" Holocaust-denial site kreuz.net is outraged that a "Muslim" has a role in a "Christian" party, and the neo-Nazi NPD writes that she represents a fifth column of Islamic extremism.
But all that Aygül Özkan has done is ask that German constitutional law be enforced, for the German Constitutional Court decided unequivocally in 1987 that crosses and other religious symbols have no place in public schools:
1. The affixation of a cross or crucifix in the classrooms of a State compulsory school that is not a denominational school infringes Art. 4(1) Basic Law.
The CDU has to think about what the meaning of the "C" is in the party in a modern secular democracy. If membership or allegiance to Christianity is a precondition to party membership, then the future looks very bleak indeed for the CDU/CSU.