The head of the German Protestant Church has called for Islam to be taught in all state schools in order to prevent young Muslims from being drawn into radicalisation.
Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, who leads the Evangelical Lutheran Church, said teaching “extensive” Islam classes in German schools would give Muslim students the chance to adopt a critical approach to their own religion.
In an interview with the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper, the bishop said all faiths in Germany must be compatible with the country's democratic constitution.
“Tolerance, religious freedom and freedom of conscience must apply to all religions,” he said.
Mr Bedford-Strohm’s proposed that Islamic associations in Germany should be responsible for the courses and said he hoped they would organise themselves to be a “clear partner” for the German state.
Of Germany's 16 federal states, seven already offer some form of Islamic religion class in their schools, similar to the country’s more traditional Catholic and Protestant religious teaching.
Some schools in Germany include classes in Judaism and Islam, but none of the classes are compulsory.
A recent survey suggested almost two-thirds of Germans believe the religion has no place in their country.
Representatives of the Catholic Church said they agreed with Bedford-Strohm's proposal, adding that have previously called for Islam teaching to be introduced into schools.
Rivalries and disputes among Islamic associations are said to have complicated efforts to manage religious instruction for Muslims in some areas, however, with relations becoming strained between religious groups and universities that train teachers for existing classes in Islam.
Germany has the second largest Muslim community in Western Europe, with some four million registered Muslims – around five per cent of the country's population.
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