Germany should set up centres for Islamic studies at two or three state universities to educate Muslim scholars, teachers and pastoral workers for its large Muslim minority, an academic advisory council has said. The Council on Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) said the lack of such institutes at universities, which already teach Christian and Jewish theology, “does not do justice to the importance of the largest non-Christian faith community in Germany.”
Muslim organisations should join advisory boards to help develop Islam institutes and choose faculty members and all main Muslim views in Germany should be represented, it said in a report (here in German) on Monday.
“For me, this is part of a modern integration policy,” Education Minister Annette Schavan told Deutschlandfunk radio in Berlin. “The main question will be who the partner is in developing this.”
Since the September 11 attacks in the United States, several European countries have been seeking ways to educate Muslim imams and teachers in Europe rather than importing them from Islamic countries out of step with modern western societies. France has set up an imam training course in Paris run jointly by the Grand Mosque and Catholic Institute, which stepped in after the Sorbonne university declined to join because it might violate the separation of church and state. Private schools operate in several countries, but the German report advised against this option, saying Islamic studies needed to be in the university system to ensure they met the same academic standards as theology studies of other faiths.
The report said Germany, where around four million Muslims live, has about 700,000 Muslim pupils and would need 2,000 Islam teachers if all states offer religious education for them. Only a few states now teach Islam, often with teachers from Turkey.