Schaeuble calls for straight talking with Muslims

26th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 September 2006, BERLIN - The German federal minister behind a bid this week to draw Muslims into the German mainstream called Monday for blunt talks with the 15 figures appointed to represent German muslims. The Islam Conference on Wednesday is expected to kick off two to three years of talks aimed at introducing Islam classes in German schools as well as persuading Muslims to accept German institutions. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said, "Islam is now a part of Germany." The conference should b

26 September 2006

BERLIN - The German federal minister behind a bid this week to draw Muslims into the German mainstream called Monday for blunt talks with the 15 figures appointed to represent German muslims.

The Islam Conference on Wednesday is expected to kick off two to three years of talks aimed at introducing Islam classes in German schools as well as persuading Muslims to accept German institutions.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said, "Islam is now a part of Germany." The conference should be blunt about the "problems."

"We're not starting an event where we are just going to say friendly things," he said in an interview published Tuesday in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "Islam must accept the ground rules and values that constitute Germany and Europe."

Officials have already said they plan to ask Muslim leaders to help fight terrorism, but also to offer government funding to train pro-Western imams (Islamic preachers) at colleges in Germany.

The government has appointed 15 figures to represent the 3.2 million to 3.5 million out of Germany's population of 82 million who are of Muslim heritage. Five of the 15 represent mosque communities.

The Turkish Community, a group representing social clubs, called Monday for a "council on Islamic affairs" to be created in Germany to speak on behalf of Muslims and supervise the theological college to train the imams.

"The discussion process now starting is a milestone for both German and Muslim society," the secular group said.

Mosque-based groups, which complained last week that they were under-represented at the table, repeated their criticism.

Aiman Mazyek, secretary general of the German Council of Muslims, said he expected the conference to bring Muslims into the mainstream, but believed Schaeuble was encouraging divisions among Muslims.

In the interview, Schaeuble replied, "Muslims in Germany are not organized in a representative way. No federation can speak for them all."

DPA

Subject: German news

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