In Germany, almost all education policy is determined at state level, and each state has a different approach to teaching religion — some states allow input from churches or religious organizations, others administer everything through the state, while two, Hamburg and Bremen, only have unified religious lessons that include different faiths.
Meanwhile, in all eastern German states except Berlin, there is no Islam option in religious classes at all.
A new study has found that 54,000 high school students at 800 schools in Germany receive Islam religion lessons — but 10 times as many would be interested.
Not enough German high school students receive Islam religion lessons, according to a new study by the media info service Mediendienst Integration.
But this is still much less than the 580,000 students who would potentially be interested in such lessons, a number that came out of a 2008 report entitled “Muslim Life in Germany” carried out by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Given that this survey was carried out before the recent refugee influx into Germany, that figure is likely to be even higher now. Though exact figures are not known, Rauf Ceylan, professor for contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Osnabrück, believes the number of Muslim children aged six to 18 at German schools is around 750,000 to 800,000.
Musa Bagrac, an Islamic studies teacher in Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia, and chairman of the association of Islam studies teachers, which helps shape the religious curriculum in the state, argued that German Muslim students had a constitutional right to attend Islamic religious classes guided by religious associations, and that ethics classes were only intended for those who described themselves as non-religious. “Our association works from the German constitution, which protects religious studies as a subject in school,” he said.
He was referring to Article 7 of Germany’s Basic Law, which includes a paragraph that has created a lot of legal paperwork in recent decades: “Religious instruction shall form part of the regular curriculum in state schools, with the exception of non-denominational schools. Without prejudice to the state’s right of supervision, religious instruction shall be given in accordance with the tenets of the religious community concerned.”