DIK - Deutsche Islam Konferenz - Muslim Chaplaincy – Conference of November 7th 2016

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Conference: "Muslim chaplaincy in public institutions" 7 November 2016

For the second time during this legislative term, the German Islam Conference opened its otherwise internal discussions by organizing a public conference on the current issue of Muslim chaplains in public institutions. On 7 November 2016, members of the German Islam Conference and representatives of the research community and public administration as well as practitioners discussed the status and challenges of establishing Muslim chaplaincy in public institutions.
Dr Günter Krings, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, opened the conference at the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Berlin:

Conference: "Muslim chaplains in public institutions" 7 November 2016Source: Dirk © Enters

"Like religious education at public schools, chaplaincy is an important issue where the Basic Law requires cooperation between government and religious communities. This cooperation raises questions familiar from other contexts. For the government, the question is whom it cooperates with: Who are – or even more ambitiously – who is the legitimate counterpart on the Muslim side? And which role do the large Muslim umbrella organization play, with whom we work together in the German Islam Conference?"

Following an address of welcome by the current spokesperson for the Muslim Coordination Council, Mr Erol Pürlü, the mixed panels discussed with the audience challenges of Muslim chaplaincy in the armed forces, prisons and hospitals (presentation on armed forces chaplaincy by Colonel Burkhard Köster; presentation on prison chaplaincy by Mr Kai Abraham; presentation on hospital chaplaincy by Mr Ulrich Weinbrenner).

Conference: "Muslim chaplains in public institutions" 7 November 2016Source: Dirk © Enters

The conditions and reasons for chaplaincy services in these public institutions vary greatly, and different government levels are responsible: the federal level for the armed forces, the state level for prisons and the local level for hospitals. Nevertheless, some questions recurred in several panels, including on the qualifications and institutional integration of the mainly voluntary Muslim chaplains. As in other areas, it is also very difficult to provide a reliable service with volunteers alone. Various panels also discussed whether the Christian concept of chaplaincy can be easily adapted to Muslims or whether different concepts should be developed.

The questions and outcomes of the conference will inform the recommendations for action which the Steering Committee of the German Islam Conference will adopt at its meeting in March 2017.

Date 8 November 2016

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