Meeting Muslims, senior German affirms need for religion

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble praised religious values as an antidote to the world economic crisis, at a meeing with Muslim leaders Monday. “The crisis has demonstrated what happens when values are no longer followed,” he told the seminar in the town hall of the southern German city of Regensburg. The meeting was a continuation of three years of official consultations between the government and Islamic leaders on how to ease friction and offer Islam classes in public schools to Muslim pupils. Speaking on how a secular system works, Schaeuble said it was not up to the state to ordain moral values. Rather it was faith groups who made a major contribution to the community by instilling moral values. He added that Germany did not privilege any one faith, adding, “A secular state is based on openness to all faiths.” The minister repeated his support for Islam classes in public schools nationwide. But he said it was up to the different Islamic organizations to settle among themselves the terms for such classes. He added that universities would need professors of Islamic education to train the teachers. The choice of Regensburg for the meeting was significant for many Muslims, as it is the hometown of Pope Benedict XVI, who upset many Muslims with a lecture at another venue, the city university, in 2006.