In Germany, a discussion about the place of Islam in the life of the country is unfolding, initiated by the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU). It began with the inclusion in the CDU platform of proposals to effectively create a state-sponsored “German Islam” that shares liberal democratic values, such as full gender equality, respect for homosexuals, condemnation of corporal punishment, recognition of the right to choose one’s religion, including leaving Islam, even in Muslim-majority countries, and more.
Many within the Muslim community in the country perceived these proposals as intrusive interference in the internal lives and beliefs of Muslims and as an attempt to “reform Islam from above. In addition, part of these proposals include the training of government-certified German imams and the neutralization of foreign influences on Muslims living in Germany, most of whom are of Turkish origin.
The debate was reignited by a recent article by a person close to the CDU, an “Islam scholar” with a Muslim first and last name, Abdelkhalim Ourghi. In the article, he complains that German society doesn’t know what is happening in the field of Islamic education in Germany, i.e. what teachers affiliated with the Turkish Diyanet (Ministry of Religious Affairs) are teaching its inhabitants. He essentially suggests that all Islamic education in Germany should be placed under state control.
In response, an article by Murat Kayman, a representative of the Muslim Association in Germany, which is affiliated with the Diyanet, was published on the website of the Islamic newspaper. In his article, the author asks the question: If Christian Democrats want to control the field of Muslim education in Germany and set programs for it, should Muslims then control Christian education and set programs for it as well?
In this article and others in this debate, Muslims in Germany point out that the CDU’s proposals on “Islamic issues” could pose a threat not only to the Muslim community, but also to Germany’s constitutional structure as a democratic constitutional state where freedom of conscience is guaranteed and religion is separated from the state. This ongoing discussion could have far-reaching consequences for Muslims in Europe.
In Russia, on the other hand, there are no such discussions, because the state has long decided which form of Islam is considered “traditional” and allowed to exist, and which is subject to outright prohibition, including inclusion in the index of banned literature, criminal charges under Article 282 of the Criminal Code, police raids on mosques, and so on.