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Introduction de l’instruction religieuse islamique

Islamic religious teaching in state schools

Various pilot experiments to establish the teaching of Islam in state schools - generally in Turkish - have been conducted in different Länder since the end of the 1980s. They have often been conducted in liaison with the Turkish State, which was originally the privileged interlocutor of the German public authorities, but public authorities have expressed their wish to be as free as possible of foreign influence. This resulted in an important step being taken in 2004.

After obtaining the status of religious community in several Länder (Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Hesse) in late 2004, the Alevi community of Germany (Alevitische Gemeinde Deutschlands) was able to start up courses in (Alevi) Islamic religion in several primary schools in these Länder. In accordance with Article 7-3 of the Basic Law (see Religious education in public schools – juridical dispositions), this instruction is placed under the authority of the education ministers concerned, in agreement with the Alevi community in Germany. The experiment - introduced in 2006 in Baden-Württemberg, then in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Hesse - remains however very marginal. Indeed, Alevis are a minority in Germany (they account for between 12-13% of Muslims there). It is estimated that courses in Alevi religion are delivered to approximately 500 Alevi students, while there are between 700,000 and 900,000 Muslim students in Germany.

From the public authorities’ viewpoint, one of the main obstacles to establishing courses in Islam is the lack of a representative Muslim interlocutor. In this respect, a page has recently been turned. The German Conference on Islam (Deutsche Islamkonferenz), created in 2006 by the Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, results from the latter’s desire to have a structure emerge that is representative of Muslims. It groups together five Muslim organisations, representing approximately 15% of the Muslim population of Germany. In 2008, the Deutsche Islamkonferenz adopted the principle of introducing lessons on Islam into state schools, then to be extended over the whole of Germany according to the conditions laid down in Article 7-3 of the Basic Law. North Rhine-Westphalia was the first Land to have introduced Islamic religious instruction into 44 primary schools for the 2012 school year, delivered by some 40 teachers. An independent board (Beirat), responsible for the recruitment of teachers of Islam and the curriculum content, has been created for this purpose. It includes eight experts in Islamic theology and teaching of religious education : four of them were selected by Islamic organisations and the other four by the Ministry of Education in agreement with Islamic associations. In 2012-2013, this denominational course involved between 2,000-2,500 students in North Rhine-Westphalia. The lack of teachers, as well as an absence of textbooks and curriculum, could, however, undermine the implementation of Islamic religious instruction. This is anyway just the beginning of the general introduction of courses in Islam into secondary schools in the different Länder.

For further information, see Focus, Süddeutsche, DIK.

Implementing courses in Islamic theology in public universities

Linked to the question of how to organise Islamic instruction in schools, the issue of training Muslim “masters” (imams and teachers of religion) has also fallen to public authorities. A decisive step was taken with the establishment of institutes of Islamic theology at three German universities (Osnabrück, Münster and Tübingen) from the beginning of the 2011 academic year.

For further information, see Süddeutsche.

D 19 juillet 2012    ASylvie Toscer-Angot

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