51° 4/2011: The Changing Face of Islam
Once again, Europe finds itself at a crossroads. The discussion of the euro makes it clear just how much more work is needed to build our “common European house” if we are to preserve that which is important to us, while the discussions we pursued with Mario Monti, Timothy Garton Ash, Norbert Röttgen and many others at our Dahrendorf Symposium in Berlin confirmed this. Following the symposium, we joined forces with Helmut Anheier and Arne Westad in mid-November to publish an open letter in the ZEIT weekly newspaper about the strengthening of Europe, a letter which was signed by a whole host of European intellectuals, from Jürgen Habermas to Krzysztof Michalski.
Another topic that is close to our heart is the integration of Moslems living in Germany. Although this group now accounts for around five percent of Germany’s population, there is still a very high level of ignorance about Islam.
Should Moslem teachers be permitted to wear a headscarf? Are mosques in German cities a symbol of integration or do they stand for growing Islamization? No other religion stirs up people’s emotions quite as much as Islam does. And even though Federal President Christian Wulff recently quite rightly described Islam as “part of Germany”, most Moslems have not yet found their place in our society. Stiftung Mercator wishes to drive forward the integration of our Moslem fellow citizens, enable them to participate more in society and create equal opportunities for all.
This is why we have chosen to devote the last edition of 51° this year to “The Changing Face of Islam”. In the opening interview, Professor Harry Behr, spokesperson of our Postgraduate Programme in Islamic Theory, explains why his fellows have to cross boundaries in their academic work. Since 2010, we have additionally been funding educational work at the Merkez Mosque in Duisburg Marxloh, something which around 1,000 people take advantage of every week and on which we will likewise be reporting in this edition. Navid Kermani, a writer and oriental studies expert, and also a senior fellow who we support at the Essen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), describes his very personal view of Islam in Germany in a guest article.
In addition, executive programme director Sybille Linke explains the objectives and structure of the Culture Agents for Creative Schools programme in our interview. We take a look back at the first half year since the founding of our Mercator Centre Berlin and provide an interim report on the work of the High-Level Consensus Group on Skilled Labour Demand and Immigration. In our column, Andre Wilkens calls upon the citizens of Europe to exert more pressure on political decision-makers for the sake of Europe.