DIK - Deutsche Islam Konferenz - Plenary Session 2010

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"Strengthening involvement" – opening the German Islam Conference

Approximately 4 million Muslims live in Germany and are a part of Germany. Their involvement in society is a core topic of the German Islam Conference (DIK), which convened on 17 May for its first plenary meeting of this legislative period. The German Islam Conference is based on the resolutions and experiences forged in its first phase from 2006 to 2009 and will now continue its work to date focussing on practical implementation.

In the Berliner Palais on the Festungsgraben, the German Federal Minister for the Interior, Dr Thomas de Maizière, welcomed the participants to continue the dialogue and referred to the challenges of integration: “Religious diversity represents a challenge to the cohesion of a society. Boundaries and marginalisation can trigger conflicts. Promoting societal cohesion in Germany does not mean doing everything the same way, levelling every difference. The aim of the German Islam Conference is not assimilation. Our goal is to ensure that problems do not arise from diversity.”

At the centre of the German Islam Conference's forthcoming phase of work is the involvement and the associated integration of Muslims in Germany. "The German Islam Conference provides an institutionalised nationwide framework for the dialogue between the state and Muslims in Germany," said Dr de Maizière at the opening of the plenary meeting.

The Plenary approved an eleven-page programme of work that is to be implemented in the next three years to the end of the legislative period. The programme of work is intended to promote structural and societal integration and is divided into the following key areas:

Key area I: "Promoting institutional co-operation and integration-related project work"

This involves developing a model concept for the training of imams in relation to national and social issues. In relation to Islamic religious studies lessons, great importance is accorded to the exchange of information on existing pilot projects. The interesting issue here is whether a nationwide model could possibly be developed and whether the Islam Conference could contribute to it. This also applies to the recommendations made by the German Council of Science and Humanities on setting up Islamic theological programmes at universities.

Key area II: "Promoting gender equality"

Here the aim is to encourage Muslim women to be more involved in society and to support them in this. A report is to examine the relevant laws and the room for manoeuvre of men and women, taking into consideration the role of religion in comparison to other environmentally specific areas of influence. In this context, the issues of forced marriage and wearing the headscarf are to be considered.

Key area III: "Preventing extremism, radicalisation and social polarisation"

It is important here to draw a clear distinction between ‘Islam’ and 'Islamism'.  The concepts will be examined and where possible clarified by mutual consent. It is important to have this distinction identified by Muslims themselves, particularly to increase the acceptance of Islam as a religion in the majority society.

At the same time, the German Islam Conference would like to promote tolerance towards Muslims in society, as the Islam Conference is also involved in looking at xenophobic patterns of behaviour towards Muslims.

The fair and constructive culture of discussion, praised by many of the participants as evident both during the preparatory committee meetings and in the plenary meeting, is an indication that the German Islam Conference represents a lively "dialogue platform" which can significantly advance the integration debate.

The Federal Minister for the Interior, Thomas de Maizière described his view and his hopes for the German Islam Conference as follows: "My aim is that the results of our discussions will find broad consideration and that they will provide the impetus for many projects, measures and initiatives. Only then will the Islam Conference have an important practical impact. It is – at least according to the calendar –  the middle of Spring. Therefore I see this Islam Conference – speaking figuratively – as a tree that has many branches on which many buds are coming into leaf."

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Additional Information

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