Some politicians in Germany are pressuring its biggest-selling newspaper to issue a public apology for a comment piece that denounced Islam's "murderous contempt for women and homosexuals" and "honor killings."
Critics of the piece in the Bild am Sonntag editorial comment included Volker Beck of the Green Party. He labeled the article as "racist" and demanded that the newspaper apologize to German Muslims.
Followers of Islam currently make up more than five percent or 4.3 million of the country's population, Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported.
In his opinion piece, Nicolaus Fest, the paper's vice editor-in-chief, wrote that he was "bothered by the considerably disproportionate criminality of youths from Muslim backgrounds.
"I'm bothered by Islam's murderous contemt for women and homosexuals. I'm bothered by forced marriages, 'justices of the peace,' 'honor killings.'"
He also wrote: "'I don't believe in God, but at the same time Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism don't bother me. Only Islam bothers me more and more."'
Fest's comment piece was published on July 27, following Germany's denunciation of anti-Semitic threats and statements heard at mass meetings against Israel's actions with its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
But the newspaper's editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann rejected Fest's arguments in an online editorial, saying that the latter had not drawn the line between Islam as a religion and the political beliefs of Islamism, reported the Breitbart news site.
"For Bild and Axel Springer [the newspaper group that owns Bild] there has been a clear, unshakeable dividing line between Islam as a world religion and the degrading ideology of Islamism," wrote Diekmann.
"That's why in Bild and Axel Springer there is no room for generalized, depreciating comments against Islam and the people who believe in Allah.
"We don't want such a debate along religious lines. We don't want to lead it, take it up or conjure it. For they always end in disaster - history has shown that to us often enough," said the editor-in-chief.