German president pays tribute to immigrant communities at ceremony

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier hit out at continuing prejudice against immigrant communities in praising the contribution made by Turks, Italians and other non-Germans to society

on Friday.

"Not only the German economic miracle was and still is supported to a large extent by Italians, by Greeks, by Spaniards and by Turks, but also the development of this German society," Steinmeier said at a

ceremony in Berlin to mark 60 years since a recruitment agreement was signed with Turkey.

Germany had a lot to thank its guest workers and their descendants for, Steinmeier said.

He also paid tribute to the achievements of the allies of East Germany when under communist rule, such as Cuba, Vietnam and Mozambique. They had all contributed to making Germany today a more open, diverse, economically strong and prosperous society, he said.

Steinmeier noted the undignified treatment that people recruited to work in Germany underwent at the time, referring in particular to body searches.

"There were no language courses, no support, no integration policy, and in fact for the simple reason that integration was not desired," he said.

He expressed criticism of the fact that opportunities in education and society for the children of migrants continued to be lower than for others and that prejudice was still evident in job recruitment

and housing.

Steinmeier also noted prejudice against Islam and called for imams to be trained in Germany.

"Muslims should be allowed to live out their faith in all its diversity in the heart of our society - with and not against our democracy," he said.    (dpa)