Germany’s imam quandary: Educate, don’t import

48866810_303Source: DW

Ending foreign influence on Muslim religious leaders’ education is a long-term goal for the German government. A new study might lead the way for training local imams, if all parties involved are willing to participate.

A new report published Tuesday proposes a concrete solution to Germany’s ongoing dilemma about how to educate Islamic religious leaders. The goal is to create a seminar that would offer graduates of Islamic theology institutes in Germany the possibility to train as imams — thereby also curbing foreign influence on local Muslim leaders.

In recent years, the German Ministry of Education and Research has invested €44 million ($49.5 million) to finance seven Islamic theology institutes across the country. But due to a lack of practical expertise, which is not a part of the institutes’ curriculum, graduates do not qualify to work as imams — so those wishing to become imams must take on a separate training similar to a seminary for the priesthood.

The German Interior Ministry brought together representatives of religious organizations, government officials and experts for a two-day closed workshop as part of the German Islam Conference. A spokesperson for the ministry said the goal of the workshop was to “look at the status quo and the future perspectives on how to educate imams in Germany.”

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