June 16, 2014
Representatives of the umbrella organization KRM (Coordinating Council of Muslims) have met with delegates of the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany). The central theme of this year’s meeting was the contribution of religious communities in Germany to promote peace in society and among nations. In the light of the dramatic situation in Iraq, the Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Nikolaus Schneider, as well as the spokesman of the Coordinating Council of Muslims (KRM), Ali Kızılkaya, criticized the abuse of religion for the legitimization of violence and war. Both the EKD and KRM announced to publish a guide for dialogue with basic recommendations and remarks for the encouragement and promotion of a Christian-Muslim encounter. The guide, which will be published in autumn, will be drawn up by a Muslim and a Protestant working group and will specifically focus on the implementation of dialogue as a basic prerequisite for a harmonious coexistence.
Muslim associations such as the Central council for Muslims in Germany and the Council for Coordination for Muslims in Germany (KRM) have criticized the comments of German Federal president Joachim Gauck about Muslim and the belonging of Islam to Germany. President Gauck took repeatedly distance from the declaration of his predecessor Christian Wulff (CDU), who pointed at Islam as an integral part of Germany.
In an interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Gauck has said to accept Muslims as part of Germany but denied the statement of his predecessor about Islam being part of German society.
The Council for Coordination has declared his statement as irritating and disturbing. The chairman of the Turkish community Kenan Kolat has invited president Gauck to a revision of books on European history, while rejecting an ideological debate.
The Koordinationsrat der Muslime (KRM), the Muslim umbrella organization in Germany, which unites Germany’s four largest Muslim organizations, announced last week that Ramadan, the month of fasting, begins on August 1st and ends on August 29th. Then, on August 30th, Muslims will celebrate the Idul Fitr , the end of Ramadan. Aiman Mazyek, the KRM’s spokesman, reminded of the meaning of fasting and wished all Muslims well for the time ahead. Since 2008, the main Islamic communities in Germany fast at the same time, which allows an easier integration of Ramadan in e.g. schools or the public sector.
The details of the intended introduction of Islamic education in German schools are still uncertain; yet, the demand for well educated teachers for the new subject is already being discussed. As reported earlier this month, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia aims to introduce the new subject in the autumn of 2012. The state’s education minister, Sylvia Löhrmann, is planning a step-by-step introduction and is already working on the curriculum with the Muslim umbrella organization KRM. While other federal states are making similar progress, again others, such as Hesse, are far behind and not sure yet when Islamic education will be introduced.
As of yet, it is uncertain how many teachers will be needed for the new subject, as the federal states do not know how many Muslim students will actually take up the opportunity to participate in Islamic education. It is certain, though, that these teachers need to be educated adequately; therefore, the University of Münster, for instance, is planning on extending their capacities for the course of study in Islamic education, which was initiated in 2004. Furthermore, the universities in Osnabrück, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Tübingen and Frankfurt have been chosen as future centers of Islam studies. They will receive an additional four million Euros over the next five years to either establish or extend such centers, which are not only meant to train teachers, but also theologians and imams. Both researchers as well as politicians emphasize the key role of such centers for the integration of Muslims in Germany.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is planning on introducing Islamic religious education in approximately 130 schools next year. To date, it is uncertain, however, how many of the 320,000 Muslim students want to participate in Islamic education. Therefore, the need for additional teachers cannot be determined yet; roughly 60 teachers will complete an additional course in Islamic education this summer.
The state government considers the introduction of the new subject to be a milestone towards better integration and praises the cooperation with the Muslim umbrella organization Koordinationsrat der Muslime (KRM), which unites the four largest Muslim organizations in Germany. However, other Muslim organizations, such as the Alevi Community, have criticized the initiative, as the KRM does not represent all Muslims in Germany.
A Muslim umbrella group formed in Germany last week aims to make Islam a “recognized” religion under federal law. That could mean Islamic instruction in public schools — or even fundraising through the tax system. The German-Islamic umbrella group launched last week called the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM) would like “a binding road map to put Islam on an equal footing” with Christian religions in Germany, said Aiman Mazyek, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims, one of the groups represented in the new organization. “Equal footing” could lead to Islamic instruction in German public schools, or even tithing of Muslims through the German tax office — a feature of federal law that provides Christian churches in Germany an income stream. Germany’s Jews have received federal funding since 2003. Mazyek said he was looking forward to an Islamic conference in May with German Interior Minister Wolfgang Sch_uble, where he hoped to hammer out a set of guidelines for official recognition of Islam “as quickly as possible.” The demand is far from uncontroversial, however (…) Article continues [here->http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,477438,00.html].
On April 10, the German Muslim leaders announced the creation of a new umbrella organization: the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM). The KRM will unite the leadership of the four central German Muslim authorities: the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), the Islamic Council (IR), the Central Council of Muslims (ZMD) and the Association of Islamic Culture Centers (VIKZ). This decision came after ongoing discussion with German authorities on how to bring Muslims into a social contract with German society; this unified leadership has been undertaken with the hope of elevating Muslims to the position of respect and tolerance enjoyed by German Catholics and Protestants. The hope is that one unified voice will provide German Muslims with better leverage against the government on issues such as representation of Muslims in religious education curriculum, visibility in radio and television media, availability of halal meat, and the headscarf. Critics warn, however, against believing KRM’s claims to German Muslim sentiment. Only an estimated 10-15% of Muslims are affiliated with a mosque. Independent, secular, and feminist Muslims are likely to fall outside the breadth of the new umbrella organization. In spite of the leadership’s insistence that the KRM is welcome to all Muslims, it will undoubtedly have a conservative bent.