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Merkel Defends Refugees, Says Islam Belongs to Germany

POMERANIA, Germany – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended last year’s flow of refugees to Germany, reiterating that Islam has a full right to exist and be practiced in the country along with any other religion.

“We have said clearly that an Islam that works and lives on the basis of the constitution … belongs to Germany,” as she spoke at an election campaign event ahead of the regional vote due to take place in the eastern region of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on September 4, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The German Chancellor has also maintained that terrorism and refugee influx are totally separate matters.

“The phenomenon of Islamist terrorism, of IS [ISIL], is not a phenomenon that came to us with the refugees, we rather have and had it,” Merkel said.

Terrorism is something Germany already had suffered in the past, she noted.

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She added that the government was leading several efforts to counter radicalization of youth.

“We already said that we are going to do Imam courses at German universities for the sake of transparency,” the German leader added.

Fleeing war-zones and poverty, more than a million refugees arrived to Germany last year.

An anti-refugee sentiment has been especially high among German citizens since the country saw a spate of attacks last month.

Those included a shooting spree in Munich, an ax attack near the town of Würzburg and a suicide bombing in Bavarian city of Ansbach.

The past month saw Merkel suffering a sharp drop in her ratings while the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has been enjoying increased support.

However, Merkel reiterated that Germany’s refugee policy will remain unchanged.