• Seven of 16 German states consider the head scarf a religious symbol and forbid public-school teachers to wear it in the classroom. Some 3.5 million Muslims (about 4 percent of the population) live in Germany.
  • Ten new countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Cyprus) join the European Union.
  • About 3.5 Million Muslims live in Germany (approximately 4% of the population).
  • In February, Fatih Akın’s Gegen die Wand /Head-On wins first prize at the Berlin Film Festival.
  • On May 24, the CDU, CSU, SPD, FDP, and Green Party agree on a compromise, and both houses of Parliament pass the Immigration Act.
  • On October 12, Germany deports Metin Kaplan (the so-called Caliph of Cologne) to Turkey after an eight-year trial. Kaplan was the leader of the forbidden Islamist group Kalifatstaat. Kaplan hadcalled for the assassination of his political rival Ibrahim Sofu, who was shot in 1997.
  • Approximately 150,000 Germans leave Germany for the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, and 200 other countries. This number of German emigrants is the highest in the postwar period, 18 percent more than in 2003.
  • On November 21, 20,000 Muslims demonstrate in Cologne against the use of violence in the name of Islam. “Terror has neither a religion nor a nationality,” says Rıdvan Çakır, director of the Turkish-Islamic Religion Organization. German politicians from all parties participate. Claudia Roth, leader of the Green Party, declares, “Islam should not only be tolerated as a guest-worker religion but must be recognized as part of our own culture.”


  • In November, the European Justice and Home Affairs Council introduces biometrics in EU visas and residence permits. The Visa Information System takes effect to further harmonize national laws in visa processing, combat illegal immigration, and increase security within the EU.


  • On January 1, euro notes and coins replace the German mark as official currency. The euro is shared by 12 of the EU’s 25 members.
  • A Reform rabbinical seminary, Abraham Geiger College, is established in Potsdam. Increasingly, German universities offer Jewish Studies departments or institutes.
  • The suicide of an Algerian asylum seeker who had spent eight months in the holding section of the Frankfurt Airport intensifies churches’ and refugee organizations’ critiques of federal government procedures. Claiming no fault, the government releases seven detainees on humanitarian grounds.
  • On December 18, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court nullifies Germany’s new Immigration Act because of an irregularity in voting.


  • In May, the so-called Süssmuth Report on German immigration is delivered to the Bundestag. It argues for new legislation on immigration. The pros and cons of restricting immigration are debated until summer 2004.
  • In August, Interior Minister Otto Schily presents his draft for a comprehensive immigration law.
  • On September 11, Mohammed Atta, who lived in Hamburg from 1993 to 2000, crashes a plane into New York City’s World Trade Center as part of the worst terrorist attack in North American history. A student of urban planning at the Technical University of Hamburg and a citizen of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Atta was the leader of an Al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg that included several hijackers. He entered the United States in June 2000.


  • The new citizenship law takes effect. Children born to foreigners in Germany automatically receive German citizenship, as long as one parent has been a legal resident for at least eight years. Children can also hold the nationality of their parents but must select a single country of citizenship no later than at age 23.
  • In January, the Jewish Museum Berlin is opened after six years of construction. The new building is designed by Daniel Libeskind.
  • After the suicide of asylum seeker Naimah H., who had been kept in a jail cell for 8 months at the Frankfurt airport to prevent her from entering Germany, a heated public discussion about the German asylum procedure breaks out. Even though the German government doesn’t take responsibility for the suicide, seven asylum seekers are released after the incident.
  • The German government creates a foundation, Erinnerung, Verantwortung, Zukunft (Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future), to compensate the millions of people who were forced into labor (Zwangsarbeiter or Fremdarbeiter) under the Nazis.
  • Germany has 7.3 million legal resident foreigners; 2 million of them are Turkish citizens, of whom 750,000 were born in Germany. About a third of non-Germans are from other European countries.
  • The so-called PISA study is published, which evaluates performance in reading and mathematics among 15-year-olds in the 32 states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In this survey, German students finish in the lower third. The public is shocked by the results and attributes them to German-language deficiencies among immigrant youth.
  • In February, Chancellor Schröder announces his Green Card initiative at a computer-trade show in Hannover, creating an exception to the ban on the recruitment of foreign labor for 20,000 foreign computer specialists to fill gaps in domestic expertise. Some 17,000 people apply for a Green Card over the next four years; their residency is limited to a maximum of five years.
  • In July, a bombing attack in Düsseldorf injures nine immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
  • In August, a court finds three teenage skinheads guilty of murdering Alberto Adriano, a father of three, who had come to East Germany from Mozambique in the 1980s.
  • On November 9, 200,000 Germans march in Berlin to show their opposition to an upsurge in neo-Nazi, antiforeigner, and anti-Semitic violence. Banners read, “We stand for a humane and tolerant Germany, open to the world.”
  • On November 10, the Bundestag backs a ban against the antiimmigration and racist NPD. The ban fails when the Federal Constitutional Court discovers that many of the party’s leaders were undercover agents from the German secret services.
  • A Jewish high school in Berlin graduates its first class since 1938.