Hamburg Recognizes Muslim Religious Holidays
The German city-state of Hamburg plans to officially recognize Muslim holidays and improve Islam courses in schools. Many of the measures are already standard practice, but the agreement with Muslim groups is still viewed as a positive signal. Other states may soon follow suit.
It may be just a symbolic gesture, but the German city-state of Hamburg has garnered widespread praise for signing an official agreement with its Muslim community that guarantees Islamic holidays, religion courses in schools and burial ritual rights.
The deal, which must still be approved by the city's parliament, is the first of its kind in Germany. It was agreed to by representatives of Hamburg's Muslim and Alevi communities, whose holidays will gain the same status as non-statutory Christian holidays. On these days, people who wish to observe the holiday have the right to either use a vacation day or make it up another time.
Aydan Özoguz, the deputy leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party and a federal parliamentarian from Hamburg, said that the agreement will have a concrete meaning in the everyday lives of Muslims and Alevi, a liberal branch of Islam which forms Turkey's largest religious minority. "There is a big difference between a Muslim worker having to say to his boss, 'I'm taking vacation,' and being able to be more direct and say, 'This is my religious holiday, and I would like to celebrate it, so I'll take it off and make up the work later'," she said.
The Hamburg agreement creates more openness and recognition not just in Hamburg, but across the country, where there has also been great interest in the initiative, Özoguz added. "I would be very happy if other states followed suit," she added. (...)