21 June 2017

Islam in Europe: German Preacher Backs Controversial Language Lessons for Imams as Debate Over Integration Rages

A Muslim leader in Germany has called for state-backed training of imams to include language lessons in a bid to tackle concerns about integration and Islamophobia.

In an article for the country's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Benjamin Idriz, an imam from the southern state of Bavaria, wrote that preachers could serve as the “driving force behind integration and dialogue” between communities, but that they often lack “basic requirements” such as the ability to speak German.

Idriz pointed out that no state-backed option for the training of imams currently exists in the country and proposed an institute for the teaching of German imams. He suggested the Ludwig-Maximillians University in Munich as one option for its base as the university already includes a center for Islamic studies.

He also warned that many imams who came to Germany from abroad were “directly connected with foreign religious authorities” and therefore “under foreign influence.” Commentators in Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, often raise the subject of influence of imams from abroad on Muslim communities as part of the fierce debate about integration and the place of Islam in German life. [Newsweek] Read more