The German government’s attempts to unite different religious groups seem to be turning sour. Introducing lessons on Islam in schools was meant to help integrate the country’s three million Muslims. But the policy is having some undesired effects.
The Germany authorities say Islam spreads a message of peace and have introduced lessons about the religion in schools.
“You will not find a phrase or sentence of Koran which tells pupils you have to persecute members of other religions,” says Ulrich Seiser from the Education ministry.
However, elsewhere, there have been allegations of teachers preaching a message of hate.
“Christians who go to discos, drink alcohol and have a boyfriend perform evil deeds. ‘Christians and Jews!’, says Allah, ‘Believe in the Koran before it destroys your faces,’” schoolchildren are told in one school.
And Muslims themselves admit that the classes have done little to soothe ethnic tensions.
“The relations between officials and Islamic communities are not so good,” said Burhan Kesici, head of the Council for the Islamic Republic of Germany.
Fears that Muslim youths are trying to spread Islamic sharia law across Europe, whipped up by anti-Muslim campaigners, have not helped relations.
Sharia is a code of conduct in Arab states whose punishments can include amputation and stoning.
“They teach them that they are a superior class of people, with more rights than the non-believers, and the non-believers can be treated like pigs. Young Muslims think German law cannot be higher than Allah’s law, therefore they must install the sharia everywhere,” said Dr Karl Schmidt from the Pax Europa Citizens’ Movement.
Barino was born to Christian parents, but he has converted to Islam. Every Muslim here must swap German laws for sharia, he says, and chop off hands, stone adulterers, flog homosexuals.
Germany’s multicultural education policy appears to be going awry. Muslim students are being radicalized by their lessons in Islam. The move by the authorities is well-meaning, but may instead be creating a generation of extremists who detest the West.
In Frankfurt, almost half the residents are foreign. Anti-immigration parties are seeing a surge in popularity. The Free Voters group is getting elected with this message for Muslims: “Integrate, or leave our country.”
“More and more young men and women born in Germany go to the extremists,” said Wolfgang Huebner, chairman of Free Voters.
And though the government’s efforts were meant to help integrate Germany’s three million Muslims, experts say the country is fragmenting into pro- and anti-Islam camps.