New Umbrella Group Founded

The leading Muslim organizations in Germany have joined forces to form an umbrella group. Now the German government will have a single negotiating partner on important issues affecting Muslims — that is, if the group succeeds in agreeing on a common position. Henry Kissinger once famously quipped: “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” The German goverment has long had the same problem when it came to pursuing dialogue with its own Muslim community: Who to call? Now the four leading groups representing Muslims in Germany have banded together so that, at last, the government in Berlin can call that elusive phone number. The founding of the new umbrella group — the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM) — was unveiled during a Muslim religious celebration in Cologne on Tuesday. The group will combine the Turkish-Islamic Union for Relgious Affairs (DITIB), the Islamic Council (IR), the Central Council of Muslims (ZMD) and the Association of Islamic Culture Centers (VIKZ). The new council will represent the interests of the estimated 3.2 million Muslims living in Germany to the government. Bekir Alboga, spokesman for the DITIB, made the announcement at the Cologne Arena in the presence of thousands of Muslims who had gathered to celebrate the birth of the prophet Muhammad.