New Approaches to Muslim Engagement: A View from Germany
Almost five years after the the launch of the German Islam Conference, the country is caught up in a fierce debate about the role of Muslims in the country, with polls showing that Germans view Muslims more negative than any other European nation. The popular approval of Thilo Sarrazin’s anti-Muslim book Germany Does Away With Itself reveals that many Germans see Islam in their midst as a foreign element, if not an existential threat to their way of life. Yet, the problems commonly associated with Muslim migrants have nothing to do with ordinary Islam and the day-to-day lives of the overwhelming majority of Germany’s 4 million Muslims, but are rather rooted in the deprivation of a good education and a system that fosters inequalities and restricts social mobility. The German Islam Conference has succeeded in initiating many useful steps to meet the demands and challenges of an increasingly diverse and multi-religious society. But more work remains to be done if Germany is to overcome its demographic hurdles and achieve long-term social cohesion among its citizens.