Hawzah News Agency (Dortmund, Germany) - This question has deeply divided the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel amid the steady rise of the AfD and the conservative Christian Social Union over the past two years.
Germany has the European Union’s 2nd largest Muslim population after France. In 2016, 4.95 million people or 6.1% of the German population were Muslim, according to Pew Research.
In light of the expanding number of Muslims, the German government created ‘Islam classes’ which “include Qur’an lessons, the history of Islam, comparative religion and ethics,” according to the teacher, Mansur Seddiqzai.
Promoting ‘German Islam’?
The research network ‘Mediendienst Integration’ informed that these classes were first launched in the early 2000s. They’re offered as electives by more than 800 public primary and secondary schools in nine German states.
“Our discussions often shift to the students’ identity struggles or feelings of alienation,” Seddiqzai added.
“They are not accepted in Germany, they are not accepted in the countries of their parents, and that produces this craving for a group to belong to,” he continued.
Almost 95% of Seddiqzai’s students are 1st and 2nd generation immigrants. “What Mr. Seddiqzai is teaching me isn’t really something you learn at the mosque,” said 17-year-old Yusuf Akar.
The liberal and leftist German politicians from parties such as the Social Democratic Party seek an expansion of Islam classes in public schools as a way to encourage the “cultural integration of Muslim students” and to “promote an interpretation of Islam that highlights German values.”
Such advocates don’t envision non-Muslim students taking these classes to gain a better appreciation of Islam.
While a few German school systems offer religion classes that include multiple faiths, religion as taught in public high schools and supported by Germany’s Basic Law is targeted at specific denominations.
But some educators resist the notion that Islam has a place in German public schools.
“Besides the fact that we have much more important problems in schools, it can’t be true that a German bishop is promoting Islam,” said Alexander Gauland, a leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party.