Kick-off of the German Islam Conference: More imams from Germany

Kick-off of the German Islam Conference: More imams from Germany

Federal Interior Minister Faeser calls for the fight against anti-Muslim racism – and wants to train more Islamic clergy in Germany.

Interior Minister Faeser is talking to another person

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser at the Islam Conference on December 7th in Berlin Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa

BERLIN taz | The Federal Minister of the Interior does not have much time when she appears in front of the participants this Wednesday at the start of the German Islam Conference. There is a “very big issue of a domestic nature that I have to take care of later,” Nancy Faeser apologizes – in the morning one of the biggest raids against right-wing extremists in years happened. Nevertheless, the interior minister is keen to make one thing clear: “Muslim life is a completely normal part of everyday life in Germany,” says the SPD politician. “The state takes care of their concerns.”

It is a clear demarcation from her predecessor Horst Seehofer (CSU), who declared shortly after taking office in 2018 that Islam was not one of them. So Faeser wants to set different accents. After all, it is the first time since the German Islam Conference (DIK) was founded that the Federal Ministry of the Interior is led by a social democrat and not by a Union politician.

The conference was initiated in 2006 by then Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. After the change of government in 2021, it was initially unclear whether Feaser wanted to continue the DIK at all. At the beginning of the year, she declared that she not only wanted to continue the format, but also to develop it further.

“Talking to each other instead of about each other is one of the most important achievements of the German Islam Conference,” emphasized Faeser on Wednesday. “The DIK is the central forum for dialogue and cooperation between the state and Muslims in Germany.” Muslim life in Germany has become more diverse in recent years. The DIK wants to reflect this.

Faeser wants to improve the participation of Muslims

A “very personal concern” is the topic of anti-Muslim racism, says Faeser. Many people in Germany are affected by racism every day, and this often applies twice to Muslims – they experience discrimination because of their religion and because of their migration history. In the summer of 2023, the independent group of experts on anti-Muslim racism set up in 2019 will present its findings and recommendations.

Another goal for the Islam Conference is now to improve the social participation of Muslims and Muslim communities. This also includes the number of imams socialized and trained in Germany to increase.

This shows that, despite the different framing, Faeser continues the earlier work of the Islam Conference on key points. The training of imams was already one of Seehofer’s priorities. Many imams come to German mosque communities from abroad. In the case of the association Ditib they are even sent and paid directly by the Turkish religious authority Diyanet. This has repeatedly led to controversy.

Faeser welcomes the fact that the larger umbrella organizations are now increasingly training their religious staff in Germany. Something was “in motion”. The aim is to “gradually reduce the state posting of imams with the aim of ending them”. Her State Secretary Juliane Seifert had just been in contact with those responsible in Ankara.

Leading Union politicians had recently criticized that the DIK did not address Islamism. Fighting religious extremism is a “high priority,” emphasizes Faeser. “But it is also clear that the German Islam Conference is not a security conference.” The topic was deliberately removed from this forum in 2011.

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