Wednesday, March 02, 2005
"It is vital to resolve this problem and ensure that Islam can be taught in German in schools," said Nadeem Elyas, president of one such group, the central council of Muslims.
"If we don't, the next generation of Muslims will grow up without values, and if they don't get their religious education in schools they risk being influenced by bad interpretations of the Koran," he said after a meeting of Muslim groups in Hamburg, northern Germany last weekend.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has been increasingly keen to improve the integration of Germany's Muslims, particularly with mainly-Muslim Turkey preparing to start talks to join the European Union.
Religious courses for the estimated 600,000 Muslim children living in Germany are guaranteed under its constitution, the Basic Law.
But the law provides only for the beliefs of "religious communities" to be taught in public schools and given the split nature of Islam here the Koran has not been accepted in the classroom.
But an estimated 4,500 religious instructors will probably be needed.
"The problem is that we can't massively bring thousands of teachers into the country from one day to the next," said Knopf, despite Schroeder's desire to better integrate foreigners.
Some teachers are being trained in Turkey under an accord between universities from both countries, but in Germany itself the first-ever faculty aimed at completing such a task was only opened last year.