Who speaks for German Muslims?

Debate on which organisations represent German Muslims seen as key to integration dialogue. The German Islam Conference has achieved its first concrete result: Muslim religious education will be introduced as a subject in German schools from next year. The move was agreed upon by representatives of the state and its Muslim population – in spite of what was sometimes a bitter controversy. A number of Muslim participants wanted to see a different kind of religious education – the sort of neutral education about Islam which half the German states already offer. The Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Sch_uble, sees Muslim religious education as a clear signal to encourage Muslims to integrate into German society. But he quickly had to scale down his initiative after it became clear that there were many open questions and possible risks involved. He had to admit that the main preconditions for the introduction of Muslim religious education have not yet been fulfilled. Before Muslim religious education can be introduced, it will be necessary for there to be an organisation representing all Muslims in the country. This organisation will also have to be recognised by the state as a Corporation in Public Law. German churches and the Jewish community already enjoy such a status, which gives them certain semi-state rights and duties. The right to such an organisation is a central demand of the four largest, mainly conservative Muslim associations: the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, the Muslim Council, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) and the Association of Islamic Cultural Centres (VIKZ). Loay Mudhoon reports.