Let's officialize Muslim community: Berlin SPD
Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Raed Saleh wants to create a contract with the Muslim community similar to the one between the town hall and Christian and Jewish groups that grants them official status.
The SPD began drafting a contract with Berlin's diverse Muslim population of more than 250,000, RBB reported.
Similar contracts with the Christian and Jewish communities allow the groups to regulate religious holidays, funerals, collaborative work at universities and pastoral care.
"We are telling them 'you are a part of this city, you are at home here,'" Saleh said.
Hamburg and Bremen already have contracts with their Muslim communities and Lower Saxony is expected to sign one in the spring. Saleh said these could be used as models for Berlin.
"Berlin needs a contract," said the city's culture secretary, Tim Renner.
"It is important that we have such a central contract with Muslim communities, even if only as a sign, especially now," when the topic of Islam is discussed everywhere.
The contract would be more symbolic than effective, because real contracts are only negotiated with registered public bodies.
But there is no single organization that brings together all of Berlin's Muslims, with the community instead clustered around various different mosques and religious groups.
The city expects to negotiate the agreement with the umbrella organization Islamic Federation, which includes 18 difference mosque associations.
"Every little step we do to bring us closer together is welcome," said Islamic Federation vice president Faical Salhi.
"The aim is indeed to speak with one voice, not only on behalf of the Turkish or Arab Muslims, but as a platform... where all are complying with the rules of democracy. "
Still, this may exclude the Alevi community, who do not believe in mosques and advocate for their own separate contract.
"We want a clear commitment that we are a part of society, and we want it to bring us more," said Kadir Sahin, secretary general of the Alevi community in Berlin.
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