World Bulletin / News Desk
Marking a historic moment in relations with minority groups, authorities in Hamburg have become the first state in Germany to officially recognize Islamic holidays, in addition to granting Muslims greater religious freedom such as allowing religious lessons to be taught in schools and allowing them to conduct their burial rituals according to their faith.
It is the first deal between the Muslim community, which constitutes a considerable segment of the religious minority in the EU's largest country, and the German state thus far. Addressing the historic occasion, Hamburg's mayor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that he hopes the deal will serve as an example for other German cities.
As part of the agreement, Muslims will be able to receive religion lessons in schools and to conduct their burial rituals according to their faith. The agreement still needs to be ratified by the city parliament to be put into effect. The deal was finalized after several Muslim groups such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), the Association of Islamic Cultural Centers (VIKZ) and the city's Alevi community signed the 11 page-document, which aims to regulate religious freedoms as well as demand recognition of the German constitution by those groups.
Similar agreements exist with the Christian and Jewish communities in the city as the German state continues to seek ways to meet the religious demands of the different communities. More than 130,000 Muslims are believed to live in the northern German city of nearly 2 million people.
However, the state's conciliatory efforts towards Muslims, whose presence in the public sphere has been growing in recent years, spurred various actions from German society as well as politicians. Muslims are wary of growing far-right sentiments in the country's social and political landscape.