Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Here is a fascinating story, in today's New York Times, about the controversy surrounding Muslim religious education in Germany's schools:
"Unlike the practice in other German states, where classes in religion are part of the regular school curriculum, in Berlin, parents decide whether they want their children to have religious instruction or not, and outside groups, in the past almost entirely Protestant or Catholic, have the right to teach their religions inside the public schools.
For many years, the Berlin government tried to keep the Islamic Federation, which it plainly did not and does not like, out of its schools. But the federation went to court, and then went back to court again, and after 20 years of trying, it finally won a ruling identifying it as a 'religious community' with the right to do the same thing that the other religions were doing. It now holds classes in 28 schools in Berlin, and plans to expand to 15 more schools next year. . . .
So what's the difference between the Muslims and other religious groups, whose presence causes no alarm? Ms. Berning and those who share her view note several things - most important, perhaps, that the Islamic Federation does not allow outsiders like Ms. Berning to attend their classes, so the impression is given that something secret is taking place in them.
But beyond the specific worries is the more general feeling that the Islamic Federation's version of Islam is a very conservative one, possibly fundamentalist, and therefore at odds with German values."