"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Friday, 26 June 2009

Dhimmitude in Germany

The conclusion of the German Islam Conference saw several attempts to bow to Muslim demands on 'sensitive issues', particularly in matters relating to education. This flagrant kow-towing is described by Reuters as 'an increasingly open and rational debate about Islam'.

Here is the kind of rationality we are speaking of:
The German government and representatives of the country’s large Muslim community said on Thursday they had agreed a number of practical proposals to resolve conflicts between German schools and Muslim practises.

Some 36 percent of Germany’s Muslims described themselves as strongly religious and 50 percent as moderately religious.

The DIK was set up to try to help Europe’s second biggest Muslim population after France integrate into mainstream Germany society, amid worries about the potential radicalisation of disillusioned young Muslims.

Proposals touched on sensitive issues such as Muslim pupils’ participation in sports and sexual education classes to religious holidays.

Delegates at the conference agreed that schools should try to offer separate swimming lessons to girls and boys and to ensure there are separate changing rooms to enable the participation of all Muslim pupils.

Given that legal school holidays in Germany are based on Christian customs, practical consideration should be given to Islamic religious holidays.

“Schools should take these holidays into account when fixing its calendar for the school year. This affects in particular the dates chosen for exams,” the DIK said.

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and religious reflection, should be taken into account in particular when planning school trips, internships or school parties.

Regarding sexual education classes, these were necessary and compulsory, but schools should let parents know in advance how and what they planned to teach.

“In the class itself, teachers should be sensitive in their choice of words and carefully select the media, that they show with caution,” the DIK said.

Tips were not only reserved for schools, however. The conference suggested that parents should make sure their children got enough sleep during Ramadan and that, if their daughters wore a headscarf, they should take care it did not lead to ostracism.

Germany seems to be treading a careful path in order to avoid the kinds of conflicts with its Muslim community that other countries have incurred, such as France which provoked controversy in 2004 by banning pupils from wearing conspicuous signs of their religion at school, including headscarves.

But will its tentative proposals be heeded without any kind of legal enforcement?

The answer is, fortunately, probably not - in Germany the federal government has no control over education and the 16 states are pretty much given a free reign to set their own curriculum.

The fact that a conference such as this must be held is worrying in itself - but it is more worrying to think that no one in the German government (the allegedly conservative Merkel being in control) has the courage to say 'no special demands from Muslims will be met'.

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