February 24, 2014
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has announced that the German Islam Conference will no longer concern itself with security issues. For sociologist Naika Foroutan of Berlin’s Humboldt University, this is a positive sign. At last, the conference will be able to concentrate on ensuring religious equality for Muslims in Germany.
Abu Bakr Rieger, the president of the EMU Foundation, an umbrella organization for informing about and promoting Islam in Europe, comments in an interview on the German Islam conference. According to him, the whole project has had its downsides from the beginning, when former German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble invited “liberal Muslims”, who were very critical of Islam themselves, to outnumber the more conservative representatives. Today, Abu Bakr Rieger sees similar problems arising from current Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière’s approach that caused two of the major Muslim organizations to withdraw from the Conference. Furthermore, while admitting that Muslims benefit a lot from the German rule of law, Abu Bakr Rieger is disappointed with de Maizière’s denial of anti-Islamic sentiments in Germany.
When German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called a conference to open dialogue with the country’s Muslims in the autumn of 2006, aims were set high. Schäuble said then he wanted to send a signal that Muslims were welcome in Germany. At the same time, the dialogue was also intended to prevent the radicalization of the Muslim community. Representatives of Germany’s federal government, and Muslim organizations addressed the issues of Islamic religious instruction at German schools, education in accordance with Western values and ways to prevent young Muslims from drifting into militant circles. On Thursday, the German-Islamic Conference will meet for its final session.