German Muslims want Islam in class

Wednesday 02 March 2005, 15:41 Makka Time, 12:41 GMT

Six Islamic groups, accounting for 70% of Germany's
Muslims, plan to unite under one umbrella to push for
having Islam taught in public schools.

The groups want to ensure that Islam can be taught in
German in public schools to better integrate children
and prevent misinterpretations. 

It is vital to resolve this problem and ensure that
Islam is enrolled in school curriculums, said Nadeem
Elyas, president of the central council of Muslims,
one of the groups.

"If we don't, the next generation of Muslims will grow
up  without values, and if they don't get their
religious education in schools they risk being
influenced by bad interpretations of the Quran," he
said after a meeting of Muslim groups in Hamburg last

Unified structure

Muslim groups in Germany define themselves by the
number of mosques under their jurisdiction rather than
by the number of people who are signed-up members,
while the law only takes membership into account. 

Though religious courses for the estimated 600,000
Muslim children living in Germany are guaranteed under
the law, the Quran has not been accepted in the

As education in Germany is controlled by the 16
states, the group plans to create a unified and
democratic structure at federal and state levels.

The project was snubbed by other major groups in
Germany, stating that Muslims in some states had been
trying to mount initiatives of their own but without
great success. 

Germany has been working on improving the integration
of its Muslim community.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has been increasingly
keen to improve the integration of his country's
Muslims, particularly with Turkey preparing to start
talks to join the European Union.

Two Egyptian imams were banned from the country last
month under new legislation which authorities say is
aimed at "hate preachers" suspected of trying to
spread "extremist" ideologies.


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