Officials in Berlin are apologizing and Muslim leaders are outraged after a scandal broke out at an Islamic conference being held in Germany.
The cause of the kerfuffle? Pork Sausage was served as part of the buffet, which offended many Muslims whose religion treats the meat as forbidden.
It may seem like a silly incident, but the clash is actually highlighting a major fault line in the debate between multiculturalism and assimilation, both in Europe and America.
“Germany’s Interior Ministry has apologized for serving the Pork Sausage at an Islam conference,” the German Deutsche Welle media outlet confirmed. “The ‘#BloodSausageGate’ scandal has sparked a debate over integration and tolerance.”
On the one hand, it’s well known that pork products are off limits for most practicing Muslims. On the other hand, the German government said no offense was meant, and that the sausage was just one of many offerings available for attendees of all backgrounds.
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“The ministry has defended its decision to serve the sausage consisting of pig’s blood, pork and bacon at the evening buffet on Wednesday,” Deutsche Welle explained.
“It said the serving reflected the ‘religious-pluralistic composition’ of the event, which brought together Muslim associations and leaders with officials from the federal and local governments,” the outlet continued.
Officials pointed out that sausage was just one part of the buffet, and that food options ranging from vegetarian to “halal” Islamic dishes were also served.
“If individuals were still offended for religious reasons, we regret this,” German officials from the Interior Ministry said.
Is an apology necessary from the Germans?
It seems pretty straightforward: If you happen to be vegan, don’t eat meat at a buffet. If your views put pork off limits, then don’t touch it. Isn’t it every individual’s responsibility to make these choices for themselves?
Maybe not, at least according to left-leaning voices in Germany. Several are implying that the menu was a purposeful insult toward Muslims.
“(S)ome have viewed the choice of blood sausage as a deliberate provocation by hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer,” Deutsche Welle reported.
“In March, Seehofer caused a stir when he said in an interview that ‘Islam doesn’t belong to Germany’ and that ‘Germany has been shaped by Christianity,'” DW added.
“A little respect for Muslims who do not eat pork would be appropriate,” scolded Turkish-German journalist Tuncay Ozdamar.
Liberal politician Volker Beck echoed the same view on Twitter, chastising the Interior Ministry that “appreciating diversity means also considering different habits.”
But part of the problem is that sausage is a food that is culturally connected to German heritage. Is it right to tell a nation to stop serving what is essentially its most famous dish?
“Tolerance starts at the point where the blood sausage is seen simply for what it is: a German delicacy that no one has to like, but that, just like our way of life, cannot be taken away from us,” said conservative German lawmaker Alice Weidel.
It’s a valid point. After all, it would be bizarre for a Hindu to move to Australia and demand they stop serving beef, or a Christian to move to Saudi Arabia and be perpetually offended by hummus.
At some point, tolerance for different tastes and diverse faiths must go both ways. That’s a struggle that Europe is facing right now, and the same clashes could be ramping up in America soon.