"Islam Needs a Fair Chance in Germany"

Gatestone Institute 19 November 2012
By Soeren Kern

The most controversial part involves a commitment by the city government to promote the teaching of Islam in the Hamburg pubic school system

The agreement grants the leaders of Hamburg's Muslim communities a determinative say in what will be taught by allowing them to develop the teaching curriculum for Islamic studies. Muslim officials will also be able to determine who will (and will not) be allowed to teach courses about Islam in city schools -- meaning that only Muslims will be allowed to teach Islam. Muslims, for their part, are hoping the Hamburg treaty will establish a precedent for the rest of Germany to follow.

Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, has concluded a "historic treaty" with its Muslim communities that grants Muslims broad new rights and privileges but does little to encourage their integration into German society.

The November 13 agreement, signed by Hamburg's Socialist Mayor Olaf Scholz and the leaders of four Muslim umbrella groups, is being praised by the proponents of multiculturalism for putting the northern port city's estimated 200,000 Muslims on an equal footing with Christian residents.

But critics say the agreement, the first of its kind in Germany, will boost the growing influence of Islam in Hamburg and will encourage the perpetuation of a Muslim parallel society in the city.

The most controversial part of the accord involves a commitment by the city government to promote the teaching of Islam in the Hamburg public school system. The agreement grants the leaders of Hamburg's Muslim communities a determinative say in what will be taught by allowing them to develop the teaching curriculum for Islamic studies.

Moreover, Muslim officials will also be able to determine who will (and who will not) be allowed to teach courses about Islam in city schools. In practice, this means that only Muslims will be allowed to teach Islam and that pupils will not be exposed to any critical perspectives about the religious, social and political ideology of Islam.

Under the wide-ranging accord, Muslims in Hamburg will also have the right to take three Islamic holidays as days off from work. Up until now, it has been up to individual employers to decide whether or not to grant Muslim staff religious days off on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Muslim students will be exempt from attending school on Muslim holidays.

The agreement also includes provisions for the construction of more mosques in Hamburg, the upkeep of cultural Islamic facilities, the authorization for Muslims to bury their dead without the use of coffins, as well as the counseling of patients and prison inmates by Muslim clerics.

Hamburg has also pledged to incorporate Muslim broadcast slots alongside Protestant and Catholic broadcasts on public and private radio and television, as well as broadcasting council seats for Muslims with the northern Germany's NDR public broadcaster and Germany's federal ZDF television channel. (continue reading...)