Muslim group boycotts 'ill-fated' talks with German govt

The absence of two big Islamic groups from government-led talks overshadowed a meeting what the governement says aims at "integration".

Muslim group boycotts 'ill-fated' talks with German govt

The absence of two big Islamic groups from government-led talks overshadowed a meeting that agreed to tackle issues such as imam training and veils.

A row over the agenda and guest lists prompted Germany's Central Council of Muslims to boycott the talks, with its head, Ayyub Axel Koehler, denouncing the conference as being "decreed by the government" and saying Muslims had been ignored.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had already banned another group, Islamrat, due to its links with an association that is being investigated by government security authorities.

"These talks have been ill-fated under de Maiziere," Greens leader Cem Oezdemir, the son of Turkish immigrants who is the first person from an ethnic minority elected to run a German party, was quoted as saying.

Germany is home to western Europe's second-biggest Islamic population with its 4 million Muslim population after France. The single biggest minority is Turkish.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel put a what the government calls "integration" on her political agenda four years ago and set up a formal dialogue process.

However, many Muslims complain the conferences have been little more than a talking shop.

The conference, comprising some Turkish groups, individual Muslim scholars and government officials, agreed on a working programme to address issues affecting minority communities and Muslims in Germany, said de Maiziere.

"The working programme encompasses central questions related to the cooperation of minorities and Muslims in Germany," said de Maiziere, a member of Merkel's predominantly Catholic conservatives. "The aim is to come up with concrete tasks linked to the subjects on the discussion list," he added.

In contrast to the situation in Britain or France where simmering Islamaphobic tensions sometimes explode into violence, German Muslims live relatively peacefully alongside mainstream society.

Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Mayıs 2010, 08:39
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