Islam finds a place in Germany's classrooms

cologne-mosque

Cologne mosque in Germany

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Germany is beginning to grant Muslims the sort of entitlements given to Christians and Jews, including having their religion taught in schools and universities – something that could be key for fighting radical Islam.

FRANKFURT — A half hour away from the shimmering banks of the Main river, Timur Kumlu has just read 20-odd second-graders a chapter from the Quran, about Abraham looking for Allah, but finding him neither in the sun, the wind, nor the moon.

Who is Abraham? One boy with piercing dark eyes jumps in. “He trusted Allah!”

Good, and who is Allah? “God,” answers a pale-faced Albanian boy. Almost half the pupils at the Henri Dunant school are Muslim, their parents coming from as far as Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Albania, Turkey and Morocco.

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Mr. Kumlu nods. Allah, he says, is also the god of the Jews and Christians. “All of us have common roots,” he says. “Jews, Christians, Muslims.”

Germany, like the rest of Europe, tries to engage with its growing Muslim community and weed out Islamic radicalism, but it is doing it in a unique way. In a country where religious groups and the state have always shared deep symbiotic relationships, the government in recent years has taken drastic steps to put Islam on the same legal footing as Christianity and Judaism. And that’s not just a matter of legal abstraction, but of real, material change: the faith is being incorporated into public school lesson plans and university disciplines. Revolutionary as it sounds, the approach is extending constitutional rights and protections, hitherto granted to mainstream Judeo-Christian religions only, to Islam.

“Most of the kids here live in two cultures and they don’t know where they belong,” says Kumlu, who has been going through new, state-certified training to teach Islam. “By giving kids a basis on their religion, we can help them not to fall prey to radical discourse.”

Constitutional protections for Islam

In many countries, bringing God into the classroom is taboo. England has a state church. France sees religion as a threat to the republic’s sacrosanct laïcité, and keeps it out of public institutions.

But the German state sees religions as partners to help citizens – and democracy – remain stable, and it supports religious groups in myriad ways, notably by levying a church tax on behalf of its most established denominations.

“There is an openness toward religions, not only religions as having their own merits, but as contributing to the well-being of society,” says Mathias Rohe, head of the Center for Islam and the Law in Europe at the University of Erlangen. It was in response to the abuses of the Third Reich that legal experts anchored religious instruction into Germany’s constitutional Basic Law.

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Aside:

Owing to labor migration in the 1960s and several waves of political refugees since the 1970s, Islam has become a visible religion in Germany.[1] According to a national census conducted in 2011, 1.9% of Germany’s population (around 1.5m people) declared themselves as Muslim. However, this is likely to underestimate the true number, given that many respondents may have exercised their right not to state their religion.[2] An estimate made in 2009 calculated that there are 4.3 million Muslims in Germany (5.4% of the population). Of these, 1.9 million are German citizens (2.4%).[3] As of 2006, about 15,000 converts are of German ancestry.  According to the German statistical office 9.1% of all newborns in Germany had Muslim parents in 2005.[4]

2 replies

  1. Muslim children not only need halal meat and Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Legally, the state has an obligation to respect the rights of parents to ensure that ‘education and teaching(of their children) is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ The schools must satisfy the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural needs of Muslim pupils. State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not in a position to satisfy their needs. A good school is not just a knowledge factory or a conveyor belt for churning out exam passes – it is a community, a family. A community is held together by common values and principles.

    No one has any problem when: Jews keep beards and wear their traditional caps Christian priests and nuns wear their religious outfits Buddhist monks wear orange robes Sikhs keep beards and wear turbans Indian aunties wear Sarees (cross streets and hang out in Wal-Mart) Yeah but if any Muslim male keeps beard or if any Muslim girl wears hijab then everyone has problem. It’s Freedom when you go naked but it’s extremism when you wear hijab – just plain hypocrisy! Looking at the case of France, a major secular nation, I believe it is also not allowing women freedom by not letting her to wear her choice of clothing as it supposedly “clashes with French secular values”.

    Stop treating foreigners like garbage and they will stop ruining your precious country. Why did you let them in in the first place if you didn’t want them here? They left everything in their countries because of your promises. Are you so anxious to please that you can’t say “no”? I would love to see you go to a foreign land where you don’t have any friends, you don’t even know anyone and you don’t speak the language, and start from scratch.

    The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.

    None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context.

    Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.

    Indiscipline, incivility, binge drinking, drug addiction, gun and knife crimes, teenage pregnancies and abortion are part and parcel of British schooling. These are the reasons why majority of Muslim parents would like to send their children to Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. Only less than 10% attend Muslim schools and more than 90% keep on attending state and church schools to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers.

    The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a safe environment with an Islamic ethos. Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won’t feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith. Muslim schools are working to try to create a bridge between communities. There is a belief among ethnic minority parents that the British schooling does not adequately address their cultural needs. Failing to meet this need could result in feeling resentment among a group who already feel excluded. Setting up Muslim school is a defensive response. State schools with monolingual teachers are not capable to teach English to bilingual Muslim children. Bilingual teachers are needed to teach English to such children along with their mother tongue. According to a number of studies, a child will not learn a second language if his first language is
    ignored.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

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