Muslim bodies cut links to Germany’s only professor of Islam

Germany’s main Muslim bodies cut their links Friday to Germany’s only professor of Islamic religion, charging that Muhammad Kalisch had questioned the existence of the Prophet Mohammed and Muslim beliefs about the origin of the Koran. Kalisch teaches at the University of Muenster in northern Germany. The four main Muslim groups had been represented on a board of advisors to his Centre for Islamic Religious Studies (CRS) since the chair was established, but there has been friction over his academic publications. In a joint statement in Cologne on Friday, the council of Muslim organizations said it was concerned at the “discrepancy between fundamentals of Islamic teaching and the published positions of the head of the CRS.” Ayyub Axel Koehler, a German Muslim who is president of one group, the Central Council of Muslims, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa: “Kalisch calls fundamental teachings into question in such a stark way that it’s not possible to go along with him.” He said Kalisch had questioned whether the Prophet really existed and what Muslims believed about the Koran’s origin. “We support the freedom of scholarship and teaching and we have no wish to gag him,” said Koehler. “But we cannot advise people to learn from him.” In a response published by the university, Kalisch said, “I regret the decision of the Muslim organizations. “A university is not there to teach the content of faith, nor to approve the opinions of a professor as correct. “Rather, the task of a university is to conduct independent, open- ended research.” He said a university should equip students “to reflect critically and achieve intellectual independence.”

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Interest in Islamic mortgages unclear

AMSTERDAM (dpa) – The number of Muslims who would opt for an Islamic mortgage if it existed on the Dutch market is unclear, Rabobank spokesman Rene Loman told Deutsche-Presse Agentur dpa on Monday. Loman was responding to news Monday by the Amsterdam city board that it will ask the Dutch Finance Ministry to enable banks to offer its clients Islamic mortgages. Replying to questions by the city council’s Labour faction, the board said it is “unacceptable that a group of Dutch nationals would not be able to purchase a home.”

EU ministers agree on new anti-terrorism chief

Brussels (dpa) – EU government ministers have agreed to appoint a new anti-terrorism coordinator tasked with improving cooperation with EU institutions and among member states in a concerted bid to thwart further terrorist attacks on the 27-member bloc, sources in Brussels said. The appointment, whose official announcement was said to be “imminent”, was set to end six months of disagreements over the exact scope and nature of the job. According to information obtained by Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, the new coordinator will be Gilles de Kerchove d’Ousselghem, a high- ranking Belgian bureaucrat working for the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs directorate.

Wrong to suspect converts to Islam: top prosecutor

Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) – It would be wrong to cast a general cloud of suspicion over converts to Islam, German Attorney General Monika Harms said Thursday, following the smashing last week of an alleged Islamist terrorist cell. The revelation that two of those arrested on September 4 for planning potentially devastating bomb attacks against US targets in Germany were Germans who had adopted Islam provoked debate on the radicalization of converts. Speaking to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in an interview, Harms said many converts to Islam were peaceful, although watchfulness was needed. But she added: “We can’t cast suspicion on entire population groups. That’s not acceptable, and nobody wants that.