Germany to set up three Islamic study centres: Berlin

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Germany announced Thursday it would establish and help fund departments for Islamic studies at three universities, a move aimed at assisting the integration of its four million Muslims.

The centres, designed to educate a new generation of imams and students of Islam, will be based at the universities of Tuebingen, Muenster and Osnabrueck, Education Minister Annette Schavan said at a news conference.

"The new centres will not only create an outstanding framework for better theological debate in our universities. We also want to contribute to making the four million Muslims in Germany feel more at home," added the minister.

Berlin would contribute up to four million euros (six million dollars) to the funding for each location, the government added.

The announcement came as Germany is being gripped by a fierce debate on integration, especially of its 2.5 million Turks.

The debate was sparked in August when a member of the country's respected central bank said Germany was being made "more stupid" by immigrants.

His book on the subject has flown off the shelves and polls have shown that his views to some extent reflect public opinion.

© 2010 AFP

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