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The project group "Better integration of Muslims in the labour market"

The second phase of the German Islam Conference (DIK) would like to support  the social citizenship of Muslims in various areas with specific measures. In this context, it is also concerned with accessing the labour market and has set up the "Better integration of Muslims in the labour market" project group. The project group is expected to develop measures for supporting Muslim women, but also Muslim men, to become involved in the labour market.

Task in the German Islam Conference's work programme

The German Islam Conference's work programme describes the importance of being involved in the labour market with a particular focus on supporting gender equality as follows:
"Access to the labour market, the opportunity of being  involved in working life on an equal basis and  accessing educational programmes leading to qualification are an integral part of the prerequisites for a self-determining life. These are closely linked with the majority society's willingness to accept minorities. Studies show that men and women with Turkish names, for example, are discriminated against when seeking work in the labour market. Muslim women who wear scarves also report clear attitudes of reserve and specific discrimination in the labour market that, to an extent, follow on from earlier experiences of discrimination at school. The study of these experiences as part of the German Islam Conference offers the opportunity to discuss discrimination and gender equality issues in both a religious and a cultural context and to develop practical strategies as to how the subject can be tackled politically by both sides and be approached from a socio-political angle at the same time. The aim here is also to highlight specific measures which will enable Muslim women to be involved in the labour market on an equal basis with men and without facing discrimination on grounds of gender."

Organisation and participants

The "Better integration of Muslims in the labour market" project group consists of delegates from the Islam Conference, includes Islamic associations and individuals, and is chaired by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The project group is supplemented by external experts including people from the "Integration through Qualification" network, the DGB (Confederation of German Trade Unions), the government's anti-discriminatory office, employers' associations, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Employment Agency. The project group has held three meetings to date.

Legal background

The consultant on the legal background was Dr Niloufar Hoevels whose doctoral thesis was written on "Islam and employment law". She explained the considerations involved in balancing the religious duties of orthodox Muslims with an employer's business obligations. It was clear that the religious convictions of employees enjoy extensive protection. At the same time, it was also evident that work and religious duties are almost always compatible.

Sociological expertise

Mario Peucker, author of the study "Discrimination in work life based on belonging to the religion of Islam" presented the latest research in this area. In assessing the existing research he explained that Muslim migrants are particularly disadvantaged in the labour market when they face negative stereotypes about Muslims and other stereotypes relating to ethnicity.

The project group's objective

The aim of the project group is to give employers and employees assistance in integrating Muslim women into the labour market. There is also a plan to organise a special conference in Spring 2012. A publication on this subject is also intended to contribute targeted information to improve the integration of Muslims in the labour market.

DIK Editorial board, 4.1.2012

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