German state Bavaria announced on Tuesday that state schools would offer Islam classes as part of the 2021-2022 school year curriculum converting the 10-year-old pilot experiment into a regular subject. However, Muslim community of Germany criticized Bavaria government for keeping the Islamic organizations out of the process which is against the German constitution.
Religious education is the only school subject in Germany that is explicitly mandated by the Federal Constitution. States have to cooperate with religion groups to offer religion classes in public schools as is the case with Catholic and Protestant faith. However, German states have not granted recognition to Muslim communities with certain exceptions. Lacking this recognition, Muslim communities have repeatedly been discriminated by German states despite Article 7-3 of the Basic Law hence failing to take part in Islamic education in public schools alongside Catholics and Protestants.
Bavaria state announced on Tuesday that it would start offering Islam classes in 350 schools across the state. More than 17 thousand Muslim kids participate Islam classes this year in Bavaria as the pilot project entered its 10th year. Germany’s leading Muslim communities like DITIB, IGMG and ZMD have come forward to criticize Bavaria’s implementation. The Muslim community representatives said in a joint statement that state’s attitude to exclude Muslim community from taking part in Islam classes in public schools contradicts with their long effort and is against the constitution.
A Cambridge University study in 2019 stressed that the institutionalization of Islamic education in public schools would signal that Muslims are officially acknowledged as an important part of contemporary German society, not simply perceived as foreigners or migrants, bound to eventually go back to their respective countries. The case of Islam thus testifies to the deep inequalities at the heart of the German system of religious education
According to the federal Basic Law, the decision to grant the recognition to the religion groups is made at the local level, which base their assessment on a number of specific criteria, including an assurance of the group’s permanence, size, and respect for the constitutional order and fundamental rights of individuals which several German-Muslim groups like DITIB and IGMG have long met. Some Alevite groups, a marginal faith within Islam, did manage to obtain recognition, but until the turn of the twenty-first century, requests made by most Muslim communities had been almost systematically rejected, the Cambridge study reiterated.