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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Germany Opens Door for Islam at Schools - Michael Fischer

BERLIN — State-run schools in Germany should offer Islam as a required religion class in the future, the nation's interior minister said Thursday. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said it would be a while before Muslim community leaders work out a legally binding accord with the government, but that an agreement on the issue has been reached.

"It will take some time, but we are moving ahead," Schaeuble told reporters after a conference with representatives of Germany's estimated 3 million Muslims and government officials.

Both sides have wrangled for years over the issue of teaching Islam in state-run schools, where religion classes are required by law. Pupils currently only have the option of studying Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism. Many schools also offer ethics classes as an alternative.

Teaching Islam in schools will be "a very, very considerable contribution to integration and peaceful coexistence," said Bekir Alboga, a spokesman for the Muslim participants.


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