Hawzah News Agency (Berlin, Germany)- This year's German Islam Conference (DIK) will be held on Wednesday and Thursday in Berlin. It has been over a year and a half since the last DIK. For this latest iteration, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), has invited some new faces to discuss a host of what he considers pressing issues. The overriding mission of the DIK remains unchanged: the "integration" of Germany's 4.5 million Muslims into society, both in a religious and broader political sense.
The two-day event will be inaugurated by Seehofer and then officially focus on efforts to promote integration and train imams in Germany. This latter issue will undoubtedly spark heated debates over the coming months and focus attention on what role Islamic theology should play in German universities, whether imams and mosques should receive funding from abroad, and what to make of Muslim congregations that make large financial contributions to certain causes.
Earlier this week, Deputy Interior Minister Markus Kerber told the broadsheet Bild that "the goal needs to be to make sure German mosques no longer depend on foreign money." It remains unclear whether houses of worship would be funded by an expansion of Germany's church tax, which is collected by the state. This option, in Kerber's opinion, would require mosques to meet several fundamental provisions of German law. Which could take a while to achieve.
Seehofer made this thinking plain in the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, writing that Islamic congregations should govern themselves in ways that meet the principles of German constitutional law regarding religion so that they can cooperate with the state. Specifically, in Seehofer's opinion, this would entail organizing and financing Islamic congregations from within Germany and requiring them to honor legal agreements entered into with the state.
Several new faces will attend this year's DIK. Indeed, it is customary that new members are announced before another conference is staged. Ever since the first DIK in 2006, lively debates have ensued within Germany's Muslim community over who should attend the conference and attempt to represent such a diverse population. Some groups boycotted the conference.