Islamic Groups Sue Regional Government to get More Influence in Schools

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY YANNICK PASQUET - Students attend a lesson as part of a theological cyclus teaching muslims who want to become imams or religion teachers at the Center for Intercultural Studies of the Osnabrueck University on February 20, 2012 in Osnabrueck, western Germany. AFP PHOTO / …

Two Islamic associations are suing the regional government of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), Germany, to have more of a say in Islamic religious studies in government-funded schools.

The lawsuit brought forward by the Central Council of Muslims (ZMD) and the Islamic Council could change the face of Islamic education in the NRW region after a ruling expected on Thursday, Die Welt reports.

Should the court decide in favour of the two associations, which are already on the regional schools advisory board until 2019, it could mean that the NRW government will not have as much input on the subject as it currently does with the advisory board model.

Court spokesman Gudrun Dahme said: “If the plaintiffs win, then, at the end of the day, some other Islamic religious education would emerge rather than the one we have now.”

A spokesman for the Dusseldorf Ministry of Education said the state’s education of teachers of Islamic religious studies would not be impacted by the ruling but the curriculum taught to students could be.

Chairman of the Islamic Council Burhan Kisici said the case was about “legal certainty” to make sure his organisation still had a role in Islamic religious education after the 2019 deadline expires.

At present, several Islamic associations sit on the Ministry of Education’s advisory board which previously included the Turkish-German Islamic Association DITIB. After it was revealed that DITIB-aligned imams actively spied on behalf of the Turkish government, the group resigned from the advisory board.

The scandal was exposed after a Turkish-German politician accused the group of being controlled from Ankara.

Some are also concerned about the potential for extremists to hijack Islamic religious teachings with the Higher Administrative Court noting that the organisation Milli Görüs, which belongs to the Islamic Council, is under observation by domestic intelligence services for links to extremism.

Should the court have doubt on the constitutionality of any of the groups under the umbrella of either organisation it could greatly affect the judgement on Thursday.

Milli Görüs is not the only questionable Islamic organisation in Germany. Last year, it was revealed that the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs gave €100,000 to the German-Islamic Association in Frankfurt (DIV), an umbrella organisation with a member who is believed to be linked to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 


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