Row brews in Germany over Islamic integration meeting

12th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

One of Germany's top Islamic organisations said Wednesday it was boycotting an integration conference next week, in a further sign of tension between the government and the large Muslim population.

The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) said the group would not attend the conference on Monday as it "has no concrete purpose."

The meeting "is not sufficient to solve the urgent social problems and concerns that have arisen between Muslims, politicians and the population," said Axel Ayyub Koehler in a statement on the organisation's website.

In its current form, the conference is "a debating club," said Koehler, adding that the issue of hatred towards Muslims in the country had not been sufficiently addressed.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, organising the meeting, said he regretted the ZMD's decision, telling AFP there was "no reason to postpone the important work" of the conference.

First held in 2006, the conference was designed as a forum where politicians and representatives of Germany's sizeable Muslim community could thrash out prickly topics such as the wearing of headscarves or teaching Islam in schools.

There are between 3.8 and 4.2 million Muslims living in Germany, the vast majority of whom (2.5 million) come from Turkey. Around half a million come from southeast Europe and one third of a million from the Middle East.

© 2010 AFP

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