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Bundeswehr lacks chaplains for Muslim and Jewish soldiers

The Local · 11 May 2010, 12:10

Published: 11 May 2010 12:10 GMT+02:00

Of the more than 254,000 troops, an estimated 1,000 are Muslim, and 200 are Jews, but they have no religious counsel, daily Die Welt reported on Tuesday.

“I have never had a bad experience,” 31-year-old Muslim soldier Arif Ünal told the paper.

However, he added that he must plan his prayer times around the military's schedule and sometimes only eat vegetables at the canteen to avoid pork, which is forbidden by Islam.

Those who join the German military are not required to indicate their religion, but the state ensures that soldiers have a right to practice their faith while serving. Still, there are no prayer rooms or chaplains available to non-Christians.

“Theologically nothing speaks against giving Muslims a chaplain too,” Werner Weinholt, assistant to military Bishop Martin Dutzmann, told the paper.

But current rules state that there must be at least 1,500 members of a faith on the force before the Bundeswehr is obligated to create a corresponding position. Another reason for the military’s failure to provide religious guidance for Muslims is the a lack of an official organisation to advocate on their behalf, the paper said.

Story continues below…

Meanwhile the French army plans to increase its existing staff of Imams to 40 this year, and the Austrian army has employed two to see after its 800 Muslim troops.

The Bundeswehr’s religious centre (ZInFü), however, is still trying to catch up to the reality of the ranks. For about a year the organisation has been working on a programme to build “intercultural competence,” the paper said. Their first pilot seminar is scheduled for May 17.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

20:20 May 11, 2010 by Thames
Next step remove the cross wherever it is found.

No more crosses on planes, vehilces or awards. The cross should be removed because it is often iterperted as a Christian symbol and there is no place in modern Germany for the Christian religion.

Christianity is outdated. 2000 years of a religion and 1500 in Germany is to long it must be replaced by a more modern relgion and that is why Islam must be promoted in Germany. Islam is 700 years younger than Christianity and it is much more tolerate and progressive, a better fit for a modern world.

One more step in German's suicide.
20:54 May 11, 2010 by Hebbellover
@Thames I hope you aren't correct, but I fear you might be.
22:40 May 11, 2010 by wxman
The numbers are too low to justify a chaplain staff for these religions. Remember, like all miltaries, these troops are not at the same location. Better they should seek religious councel in the local community rather than increase miltary spending to support their religious needs.
00:11 May 12, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, the cross will never go away. Look at what happend when they tried to remove them from schools.

The Psychology of every nation on earth is based upon a particlar religion. This is true simply because we must all believe in something. "A man without a Psychology is crazy."
15:10 May 12, 2010 by Thames
@Logic Guy

I was being sarcastic. the cross has been used for thousands of years and will never go away. Christianity survived underground for a few hundreed years when the Roman Empire sought to surpress it. It will survive and the Gates of Hell will never overcome it. It is only to Germany's detriment to cast aside the religion that helped civilize and unite the German tribes.
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