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Questions of equality at the fore in German Islam Conference
by Stefan Dege
At an annual conference, Muslim organizations in Germany will discuss changes they hope will lead to more parity with German Christians. But the event has drawn criticism both from participants and others.
In the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, children no longer have to go to a mosque to learn about the Koran - Islamic religious education is available as part of the curriculum at state schools. But there are no cemeteries under Muslim management, or public holidays to mark important Muslim festivals. So far, only two federal states - Hamburg and Bremen - are in favor of an interstate agreement guaranteeing such rights to Muslim organizations.
Launched by former Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in 2006, the German Islam Conference, which takes place on May 7 this year, is the central forum for dialogue between the German state and representatives of Muslim organizations in the country. The aim is to improve cooperation between religious communities and the state. Over the years, discussion has focused on how to put Muslim communities on par with Christian communities, Islamic religious education in schools, recommendations for the construction of mosques, as well as religious fanaticism and its effects on safety in Germany.
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