ISLAMIC EDUCATION IN GERMANY FIGHTS RADICAL ISLAM

28-2-15_German-Finnish-Radio-Broadcast-QuranBerlin, 7 Rajab 1436/26 April 2015 (MINA) – In a bid to fight extremism, Germany has been taking drastic steps to offer state-sponsored Islamic education, placing it on equal footing with Christianity and Judaism.

“A sound knowledge of Islamic theology and philosophy and psychology, and strategies of discourse and discussion,” is the best antidote there is to extremism, Harry Harun Behr of Frankfurt University said, On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)  as reporting.

Behr, who is responsible for the training of future teachers of Islam in middle and high schools in Hessen, believes that Islamic lessons became essential in German schools.

Over the past years, the government has allocated €20 million to establish the country’s four Islam theology centers in the most respected public universities.

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“Being part and parcel of a world-famous university” means that “Islam no longer stands on the outside,” said Omar Hamdan, the Palestinian-Israeli who heads the Islam center at Tübingen University.

“We stand on equal footing with the other theology schools.”

The importance of including Islamic lessons in the school and universities curriculum has been heightened following the latest atrocities committed by extremist groups in the name of Islam.

Islamic education aims to clear misconceptions, as hundreds of European youth have joined the so-called ISIL overseas.

Germany has Europe’s second-biggest Muslim population after France, and Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

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Germany is believed to be home to nearly 4 million Muslims, including 220,000 in Berlin alone. Turks make up an estimated two thirds of the Muslim minority.

Radical Preachers

With most Muslim preachers not born in Germany, youth are facing challenges of alienation in mosques due to language barriers.

Moreover, German-speaking preachers with little religious background pose as a threat to radicalize Muslim youth.

“When radical preachers appear somewhere on the market place, my students go there and will argue with these people, mingle with the crowd and discuss their arguments against radical Islam,” says Behr.

“We don’t want men like them taking the Quran out of our hands.”

He went on saying: “We are on the brink of having young Muslim scholars ready to get their doctoral theses and be anchors in the public to answer the tricky questions of Islam and what it is all about,” Behr said.

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For the trainer, critical thinking is crucial in learning Islam.

“I teach my future teachers to be radicals, too – in their adherence to freedom, to uncompromising attitudes against religiosity, rigid world views and gender-based hostility,” Behr said.

A recent government research showed that German school text books stereotype Muslims.

Unveiled earlier last March, the project concluded that immigration and diversity were presented as problems that should be combated to attain homogenous societies.(T/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)