Avicenna Scholarship for Muslim students

Talented Muslims students are given the opportunity to finance their studies through the Avicenna-Studienwerk, which was established in March 2012. Two students called Matthias Meyer (University of Konstanz) and Beschir Hussain (WHU and Columbia University) had the initial idea to create a foundation for Muslim students. The association was founded in March 2012 by researchers and students in Osnabrück. The director of the Institute for Islamic Theology Bülent Ucar spoke about a historical step towards recognition and equality of Muslims in Germany.

Selected undergraduate students receive 670 Euros per month and doctoral students receive 1050 Euros per month. The Mercator foundation is supporting the Avicenna-Studienwerk with 1 Mio. Euros for the duration of five years. The Ministry for Education and Science will support the Avicenna-Studienwerk with another 7 Mio. Euros.

The average rate of Muslims in Germany is about 4.6% to 5.2%. However the Muslim representation rate is just below 3% at German Universities.  The aim of the Avicenna-Studienwerk is to create equal opportunities for talented Muslims to participate and engage in German society.

Ahmadiyya community becomes corporate body under public law

June 13

 

Hesse is the first German State that recognizes a Muslim community as corporate body under public law. So far, only the Catholic, Evangelical, Greek-orthodox, Russian-orthodox, Jewish and Jehova´s witnesses have been given this status.

 

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jammat community had given the legal status of corporate body under public law, which entitles the community to be treated equal as the Christian and Jewish communities and raise taxes. Abdullah Uwe Wagishauser, chair of the community said that the status will facilitate the construction of Muslim cemeteries and mosques in Germany. The community does not aim to raise in the near future.

 

Since the 1950´s, the Ahmadiyya community is active in Germany. The Ahmadiyya community has 35.000 members and 225 organized communities in Germany.

 

The reaction of the coordination council of Muslim to the decision was cautious. In a press release, the Ahmadiyya community has been described as “an autonomous religious community with Muslim elements”. It would not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet. Muslim associations such as the council of Muslims have applied “a century ago” for being recognized as a corporate body, but would be still waiting for a respond.

 

The Ahmadiyya community had applied in 2011. Chair Wagishauser promised to support the other Muslim associations in the recognition process, simultaneously he distanced the community to extremist groups. What Salafists would do say and do would be the contrary of Islamic faith and religion. The deeds of the Ahmadiyya would comply with the constitutional order of Germany promoting tolerance and knowledge.

German Islam Conference and reactions

May 14

 

This year´s German Islam conference has been criticized by politicians of the opposition and Islamic associations. Minister of Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) has been criticized for focusing the topic of the conference on extremism. Kenan Kolat who represents the Turkish community in Germany criticized the emphasis on the topic “security” at the conference. Bekir Alboga, general-secretary of the Turkish Islamic Union for the Institute of Religion (DITIB) criticized that the topic of security would overlap partnership.

 

Islamic associations have criticized the conference for inviting participants with a critical attitude towards Islam. Erol Pürlü, dialogue appointee of the association for Islamic culture centres, expressed the concern of Islamic organizations: “Dialogue is only reasonable with Islamic religious communities and only with them”. One of the invited participants who is critical towards Islam is Hamed Abdel-Samad. In 1995, Abdel-Samad who is a son of an Egyptian Sunni cleric, moved to Germany. Having studied Political Science and Islamic Studies, he has been engaged in several initiatives such as writing books or creating documentaries with a critical stand towards Islam.

 

Participants of the German Islam Conference

 

Hamed Abdel-Samad is a Political Scientist and “secular Muslim” who has written about the Islam and its challenges in Modern times. He criticized the violent reactions and threats against the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard as a sign of backwardness, which Muslims would need to admit. He has been chosen as an”independent Muslim”.

Bernd Ridwan Bauknecht is a teacher of Islamic Studies at public schools. He can be categorized as a “liberal Muslim” whose goals are to accompany young Muslim pupils and youngsters to facilitate their integration in society.

Sineb el Masrar is Chief Editor of the Women and Migrant magazine “Gazelle”. She is “liberal Muslim” with secular views and stand for the recognition of Muslims and their contribution to German society. Her attempt is to strengthen the role of Muslim women in society as they would try to bridge modernity with tradition.

Gönül Halat-Mec is lawyer, works on family law with special focus on migrants. She perceives herself as a “secular Muslim”, whose religion should be a personal and private matter only. As religious and transitional doctrines would repress and discriminate women, they contradict with the plural democratic societal order and would complex any joint cooperation.

Abdelmalik Hibaoui is an Imam and preacher. He can be categorized as a “conservative Muslim”, who expects from the Islam Conference to provide the fundament for the construction of Centers for Islamic theology at Universities and Islam as a subject at public schools.

 

Hamideh Mohagheghi has studied theology and writes on interreligious dialogue. She expects a mutual dialogue between Muslims and their “State”. Islam and Muslims should be perceived as a norm. She might be categorized as a “conservative Muslim” though as an expert, she has taken a scientific stand in her interviews.

 

Ahmed Mansour is a Berlin based Palestinian Israeli. He is a free lance author working for the “society of democratic culture”. He is manager of the HEROES project in Berlin and is Policy Advisor for European Foundation for Democracy.

 

Bülent Ucar is Professor for Islamic Religious Education. He is “liberal Muslim” declaring mutual participation and recognition as a fundamental part of integration. The State should recognize Muslim associations and organizations to facilitate area wide religious education for Muslim children and institutionalize the education of Imams in Germany.

 

Turgut Yüksel is a sociologist and “secular Muslim”. As a consultant, he works on projects related to migration and intercultural dialogue. Religious practices should be a private matter only without any form of discrimination. The State should not risk losing it neutrality toward all religions. A clear borderline between Islam and Islamism would be necessary. A founder of the (initiative for secular Muslims in Hessen), he tries to represent the voices of Muslims without a representative organization or association.

 

 

Tuba Isik-Yigit is Doctorate at the Center for Theology and Cultural Sciences at the Institute of Catholic Theology at the University of Paderborn. She can be categorized as a “conservative Muslim” conceptualizing the establishment of centers for the education of theology students. Also, she is engaged in strengthening equality of women, especially those with headscarf.

 

Council of Muslims in Germany proposes the inclusion of two Islamic holidays in public calendar

March 28

Aiman Mazyek, representative of the council of Muslims in Germany has proposed the inclusion of two holidays into the public calendar, one holiday for Eid Al-Adha (sacrifice) and one holiday for Ramadan. The integration of Muslims in Germany would be strengthened through the recognition of Islamic holidays. These holidays would be useful to the entire German society, as Muslims could step in and replace their non-Muslim colleagues during other public holidays.

Conservative politicians such as Wolfgang Bosbach (CDU) disagree with the proposal, since Germany would not have an Islamic tradition.

A study of experts, released by the Robert Bosch Foundation has confirmed the claim of Muslims for being treated unequal.

 

Belgian Foreign Minister wants to monitor Imams

02.03.2013

RTBF

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said in an interview to Sud Presse that the recognition of the Muslim faith in Belgium needs to be linked to certain conditions, such as the surveillance of imams. Reynders wants to better control the training of imams and their teachings in mosques in order to prevent radicalisation. State financial aid towards the faith needs to be met with state scrutiny and influence upon the organisation of the faith, according to him. He wants to collaborate with Muslim communities in his efforts to clamp down on the radicalisation of Muslims in the country.

The executive of the group Muslims in Belgium, Semsettin Ugurlu, stated that ‘10% of the population of Belgium are Muslims and thus citizens with a right to practice their cult (…) the subsidies must not be used as a means to pressure” the community.

In a follow up to the story, Ugurlu proposed an imam school in Belgium in order to avoid recruiting imams taught elsewhere than in Belgium.

Senior Muslim Police officer resigns over discrimination

05 February 2013

 

Dal Babu, one of the most senior police officers in the UK police force, has resigned after 30 years in the service in protest against the prevailing bias against the recruitment of officers from ethnic minorities. His resignation came after refusal of his request to be promoted to chief officer rank.

The high-ranking officer has been a prominent and eloquent spokesman for Muslim police officers with wide public exposure. He was also awarded an OBE in recognition for his efforts to encourage the soaring public confidence ratings in the London borough of Harrow which he runs.

In spite of holding a master’s degree and speaking four languages, he was considered unsuitable to assume chief officer rank because his media interview skills were not deemed good enough. He was also refused a place on the strategic command course for the next generation of chief constables.

In 2003 Dal Babu had won a case against the Metropolitan Police force after claiming that he failed to win promotion and faced discrimination because of his faith. The tribunal heard that Babu was interviewed for promotion. He was failed on one competency, decision-making, but did not feel the assessment reflected his performance. He was also concerned that the centre did not have prayer facilities, even though these were available in other police buildings.

When he decided to take his case to a tribunal he gained access to the documents used in his assessment and was able to prove his marking had been unfair. The Met tried but failed to have the case struck out on a legal technicality.

Only 2.8 percent of police leadership is from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. This year, there are no black or minority ethnic officers on the course and chief officers admit the service is in the grip of a diversity crisis.

The City State of Bremen will sign a treaty with the Muslim community

December 11

 

The mayor of the City State Bremen Jens Böhrnsen (SPD) defined the treaty of the City State of Bremen with the Muslim community as the right step. Muslims would be an integral part of Bremen. The treaty includes the implementation and recognition of religious-related holidays, including school holidays, religious education and burial rituals for Muslims. The treaty guarantees three official holidays: Eid ad-Adha, Ramadan and Ashura. The equality of men and women is a premise.

 

However, the treaty does not grant the Muslim community the corporation under public law. Muslim teachers will not be allowed to teach Islamic education. Unlike Hamburg, the Bremen Senate did not approve to implement “Islam” as a school subject. Approximately 40000 Muslims live in Bremen.

 

The Islamic association of Bremen “Schura” welcomed the treaty draft. Khalid Preukschas, board member of the Schura described the treaty as a positive sign for Muslims and Bremen. The treaty would be an important step towards the recognition of Muslims as a part of the society. Muslims have proved their willingness to integrate into the society.

 

Muslim associations and Green Party in Lower Saxony criticize Minister of Interior

November 26

 

Muslim associations in Lower Saxony have criticized Minster of Interior Uwe  Schünemann (CDU) for defining Muslims as a marginal group. The associations did not accept to dialogue with the Ministry of Interior in July, after Minister Schünemann had refused to withdraw his “checklist” for the recognition of Islamists. Emine Oguz, a lawyer of the Islamic Union Institute for Religion – Ditib said, Schünemann would continue the checklist and keep controlling the mosques.

 

The migration policy speaker of the Green party Filiz Polat, criticized the government of Lower Saxony for ignoring the situation of Muslims. The Green party claims to record criminal offences against Muslims. Also, the Greens plan to include the situation of Muslims as an issue for the upcoming elections in Lower Saxony. The share of the Muslim population in Lower Saxony is about 6,2%.

French Islamic school teaches imams

News Agencies – November 6, 2012

Deep in the wooded hills of Burgundy in central France, an unusual institute is training unusual students: aspiring French imams who hope to minister to the country’s large Muslim population. After seven intensive years of study, only 10 or so graduates each year to lead prayers or preach at mosques following graduation from the European Institute of Human Sciences de Saint-Leger-de-Fougeret Over the past nine years, various governments have encouraged the professional training of local religious leaders. Interior Minister Manuel Valls recently backed the practice, even if the job of imam is badly paid, if at all, and enjoys no official recognition.

The initiative goes back 20 years when the Union of Islamic Organisations in France, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, converted a former children’s holiday centre into the institute. Its stated aim is to train imams equipped “with a solid knowledge of Islam and the socio-cultural realities of Europe.” The idea was to provide an alternative to the recruitment of foreign imams, who often spoke no French and had little or no knowledge of French lifestyles.