SHAFAQNA – Raed Saleh, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Berlin wants to create a contract with the Muslim community similar to the one between the town hall and Christian and Jewish groups that grants them official status.
The SPD began drafting a contract with Berlin’s diverse Muslim population of more than 250,000, RBB reported.
Similar contracts with the Christian and Jewish communities allow the groups to regulate religious holidays, funerals, collaborative work at universities and pastoral care.
“We are telling them ‘you are a part of this city, you are at home here,'” Saleh said.
Hamburg and Bremen already have contracts with their Muslim communities and Lower Saxony is expected to sign one in the spring. Saleh said these could be used as models for Berlin.
“Berlin needs a contract,” said the city’s culture secretary, Tim Renner.
“It is important that we have such a central contract with Muslim communities, even if only as a sign, especially now,” when the topic of Islam is discussed everywhere.
The city expects to negotiate the agreement with the umbrella organization Islamic Federation, which includes 18 difference mosque associations.
“Every little step we do to bring us closer together is welcome,” said Islamic Federation vice president Faical Salhi.
“The aim is indeed to speak with one voice, not only on behalf of the Turkish or Arab Muslims, but as a platform… where all are complying with the rules of democracy. “
Germany is believed to be home to nearly 4 million Muslims, including 250,000 in Berlin alone. Turks make up an estimated two thirds of the Muslim minority.
Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
Over the past weeks, the group “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident” or PEGIDA has been holding weekly marches against Muslims and immigrants.