Muslim associations call Muslims to participate at German elections

Sep 19th

 

The major Muslims associations have called Muslims to participate at the upcoming election for the German Bundestag. Associations such as the Turkish Community in Berlin (TGB), Islamic Community Milli Görüs (IGMG), the Association of Islamic Cultural Centers (VIKZ), the Turkish Islamic Union Institute for Religion (DITIB) and the European Turkish Union have organized information meetings in mosques and Islamic centers across Germany to inform Muslims about the relevance of the upcoming elections.

 

Muslim immigrants have the opportunity to access information about the parties and their programs. Issues such as the dual citizenship are popular among immigrants. Albeit Muslims associations inform citizens about the political system, the parties and the political issues, they remain neutral in terms of any  recommendation.

 

Hamburg State signs treaty with Muslim community

November 13

The State of Hamburg, Muslim associations and the Alawite community have signed a treaty. They agree to implement and recognize religious-related holidays, including school holidays, religious education and burial rituals for Muslims.

The State of Hamburg guarantees three official holidays: Eid ad-Adha, Ramadan and Ashura. Muslim teachers will be allowed to teach religious education, once they have passed the state exam and given that the course is cross-confessional. The equality of men and women is a premise.

The involved parts, other than the State of Hamburg, are: the Turkish-Islamic Union Institute for Religion (Ditib), the Council of Islamic communities (Schura), the association for Islamic Culture centers (VIKZ) and as the Alawites community of Germany. The three associations represent approximately 130 000 Muslims in Hamburg. Approximately, 50 000 Alawites live in Hamburg.

The chairman of the Turkish-Islamic Union Institute for Religion in Hamburg Dr. Zekeriya Altuğ emphasized the importance of the treaty as a historical day for Muslims in Hamburg and Germany. The Muslim community would be hopeful to receive the full support of all political institutions. This treaty would express the diversity of Muslim life in Hamburg.
The Federal chairman of the Alawite community Hüseyin Mat emphasized the importance of this treaty in recognizing the Alawite community. Germany should be dignified for recognizing the Alawite community and their rights as a religious minority. In contrast to Germany, the Turkish government should be ashamed. Turkey would still repress Alawites and force them to assimilate.

German TV documentary “Allah in Ehrenfeld“

July 12

 

This 90 minute documentary shows moods and positions relatively to the construction of Germany’s biggest mosque in the city district of Collogne-Ehrenfeld. Since 2007 the construction of the mosque has been a bone of contention between the project supporters and local inhabitants, who openly oppose the construction. The documentary focuses on polarized attitudes and statements for and against the project, contributing interviews with local politicians, citizen initiatives and the Turkish-Islamic Union Institute for Religion (Ditib). Ditib had actually initiated the mosque construction but withdrew its order in 2011, after popular initiatives and the City Council raised “technical” demands for a transparent untraditional architecture and a lower height of the mosque’s minaret.

Muslim and Migrant Organisations Bemoan President Wulff’s Resignation

17./18./19.02.2012

Following the resignation of the German President Christian Wulff on Friday February 17th, migrant organisations and Muslim associations have articulated their regret about Wulff’s decision. Wulff, who finally bowed to public and political pressures and a lack of trust after allegations of corruption and blurred lines between personal, business, and political advantages had dominated discussions about him, enjoyed a reputation of being the president that migrants needed. In one of his early speeches, Wulff publicly acknowledged that Germany was, indeed, a country of immigration and, more importantly, that Islam was now an integral part of German society.

Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, expressed his respect for Wulff’s decision – but also for what he had achieved as a key figure for integration in Germany. Kolat is hoping for a successor who takes integration as seriously as Wulff did. Similarly, the Turkish Islamic Union (DITIB) considered Wulff to be the president that was much needed by migrants and Muslims in Germany to foster their integration. Ayman Mazyek, chair of the central councils of Muslims in Germany, appeared optimistic that Wulff’s successor would continue on his path with respect to integration.

Integration Course for Imams

28.06.2011
Ten Turkish Imams completed their 10-months training at the Goethe-Institute in Göttingen (Lower Saxony) on Monday (27.06.2011). The training was part of the integration project “imams for Germany”, which is funded by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and the Turkish-Islamic Union (DITIB). As foreign imams are often criticised for their lack of German language skills, a particular focus of the training was on language acquisition. Furthermore, the imams received information about life in Germany and German society, to better understand and advise Muslims in Germany.

ATIB: Cultural Association or Shelter for Islamists?

9 February 2011

ATIB, the “Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria,” is a favorite target for anti-Islam activists in Austria. The far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) maintains that the goal of ATIB is to spread Turkish values and the Qur’an in Austria, while local activists such as the spokesperson for the Dammstraße anti-mosque initiative Hannelore Schuster believe that “naturally” there are Islamists active within ATIB, and that the goal of the Turkish state is to use ATIB to promote the domination of Europe by Islam.

Cengiz Günay of the Austria Institute for International Politics agrees ATIB is “definitely not independent” of the Turkish state, however he says that it represents a more moderate form of Islam, and that there are no “underground currents attempting to invade Austria.” Günay in general refutes the idea that Islamic centers promote parallel societies in Austria: “they exist already,” he says, due mainly to the fact that Turkish migrants occupy the lowest level of the social ladder.

Church plans to establish kindergarten for Muslims

The Protestant church in Mannheim has announced plans for building an “integration kindergarten” to accommodate Muslim children. The plans are a reaction to an envisioned Turkish kindergarten that would be run by DITIB, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs in Germany. It is a controversial project for fears of isolation instead of integration, and is also being criticised by Turkish parents. The church’s initiative is an attempt to show “true concern with the issue of integration” and a Muslim partner would accompany the planning process, the Protestant dean Günter Eitenmüller said.

Islamic Burial in Austria: “That is true integration”

In Vienna cemeteries have long been seen as “interconfessional,” and in 2008 a 3.4 hectare Islamic cemetery was opened. According to the speaker for the cemetery, Ali Ibrahim, “There is no longer an excuse to be repatriated to the homeland for burial, as Islamic rites are respected in Austria as well. When one is buried is the same place in which one has lived, that is true integration.”

On the other hand, Helga Bock, who works for one of the largest funeral homes in Austria, highlights that if a person wishes to be buried in one’s country of origin that does not necessarily mean that that person was not well integrated, and moreover, many such burials do not take place since the people in question might have already retired and moved back to their home countries. The repatriation of corpses itself is usually facilitated by mosque associations, such as the Turkish Islamic Union for Social and Cultural Cooperation in Austria (ATIB), while the costs are paid by years of contributions to a special fund of such associations.

All fourteen state-recognised religious groups are present in Vienna’s central cemetery, and the officials do their best to respond to the specific wishes of each group. In the case of Islam, this requires the ritual ablution of corpses divided by gender, as well as burial in a simple sheet, with the corpse facing Mecca. In Austria however, burial without a coffin is not permitted, thus Muslims are buried in softwood coffins – not dissimilar from Jews, who are also buried in coffins, but with a hole in the bottom in order for there to be direct contact with the earth.

Islamic burial in Austria: “That is true integration”

In Vienna cemeteries have long been seen as “interconfessional,” and in 2008 a 3.4 hectare Islamic cemetery was opened. According to the speaker for the cemetery, Ali Ibrahim, “There is no longer an excuse to be repatriated to the homeland for burial, as Islamic rites are respected in Austria as well. When one is buried is the same place in which one has lived, that is true integration.”

On the other hand, Helga Bock, who works for one of the largest funeral homes in Austria, highlights that if a person wishes to be buried in one’s country of origin that does not necessarily mean that that person was not well integrated, and moreover, many such burials do not take place since the people in question might have already retired and moved back to their home countries. The repatriation of corpses itself is usually facilitated by mosque associations, such as the Turkish Islamic Union for Social and Cultural Cooperation in Austria (ATIB), while the costs are paid by years of contributions to a special fund of such associations.

All fourteen state-recognised religious groups are present in Vienna’s central cemetery, and the officials do their best to respond to the specific wishes of each group. In the case of Islam, this requires the ritual ablution of corpses divided by gender, as well as burial in a simple sheet, with the corpse facing Mecca. In Austria however, burial without a coffin is not permitted, thus Muslims are buried in softwood coffins – not dissimilar from Jews, who are also buried in coffins, but with a hole in the bottom in order for there to be direct contact with the earth.