Religion Study: ‘There Is Absolutely No Reason for Islamophobia’

Germany’s Muslims are pious and yet more tolerant than most assume, a new study has found. Its authors are urging authorities to draw the country’s Muslim children away from Koran schools by offering public religious instruction. Dr. Martin Rieger of the Bertelman Stiftung thinks Muslim children should have their own religion classes. Rieger was the director of the study “Muslim Religiosity in Germany,” which was provided to SPIEGEL ONLINE ahead of its scheduled publication on Friday. The study reveals that 90 percent of Muslims define themselves as religous. In contrast a separate survey by the nonprofit German think tank found that only 70 percent of the entire population admitted to being religous. “We need to get the younger Muslims out of the Koran schools,” Rieger urges, “and offer them professionally taught classes on Islam.” Calls like that are welcome news to Yunus Ulusoy from the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, which keeps track of the religiosity of Turkish Muslims. It’s a demand, Ulusoy says, “that we’ve been making for decades because, for Muslims, faith is a very important part of their identity.” In his opinion, if the school system doesn’t pay any attention to this fact, it only hurts the chances of successfully integrating Muslims into German culture. Even Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, the body responsible for the country’s Catholic Churches, backs the plan. On Thursday, Zollitsch voiced his support for the call for Islamic religious instruction and the construction of “fitting Muslim houses of worship that are well-integrated into their respective urban plans.” Peter Wensierski and Christina Hebel report.

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