Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:07 am (KSA) 21:07 pm (GMT)

German state to teach Islam in schools

Islamic education is currently experimental in 42 Lower Saxony schools
Islamic education is currently experimental in 42 Lower Saxony schools

The German state of Lower Saxony will start including Islam in its schools’ core curriculum as part of an initiative to counter growing anti-Islam sentiments in Europe.

Dr. Bernd Althusmann, Minister for Education at the northwestern state of Lower Saxony, announced that schools in the state will start including Islamic education in their main curriculum, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Thursday.

 Islam is not just a religion, it's also a political system. Islam is intolerant towards those who think differently 
Conservative Berlin MP René Stadtkewitz

“I think we will be able to start implementation by the academic year after the next ,” Althusmann said during a visit to an elementary school in the city of Hanover and in which he attended an Islamic education class.

For the time being, Islamic education has not exceeded a few experimental models in 42 schools in Lower Saxony. Almost 2,000 Muslim students in these schools currently get Islamic education in the state.

The initiative was triggered by recent waves of anti-Islam sentiments, especially with the recent establishment of a conservative party modeled after the Dutch Part for Freedom led by controversial MP Geert Wilders whose movie Fitna outraged Muslims all over the world.

The new party, called Freedom, was founded by Berlin MP René Stadtkewitz who was kicked out of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union for his views against Islam and for inviting Geert Wilders to give a speech in Berlin.

Stadtkewitz, 45, said that Islam is the reason why immigrants fail to integrate into the German society because of its rejection of different views.

“Islam is not just a religion, it's also a political system. Islam is intolerant towards those who think differently,” he said in statement following the foundation of the party.

Culture of fear

 One encounters, in varying degrees, a fear of the other, a fear of the future, and a fundamental anxiety about the loss of identity in an increasingly complex world 
French Institute for International Relations founder Dominique Moisi

Anti-immigration parties are not new to Europe. France’s National Front Party under the leadership of Jean-Marie Le Pen and Italy’s North League.

According to Dominique Moisi, founder and senior advisor at the Paris-based French Institute for International Relations, this anti-Islamic trend is not new to Europe , but has only been gaining more momentum in recent years.

For Moisi, it is the culture of fear that determines the way the West perceives Muslims.

“One encounters, in varying degrees, a fear of the other, a fear of the future, and a fundamental anxiety about the loss of identity in an increasingly complex world,” he wrote in his article entitled “The Clash of Emotions.”

This fear, experts argue, has increased since the onset of the global financial crisis. European politicians, they add, take advantage of the situation and capitalize on this fear in order to incite hatred against Muslims.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).

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