(The Local) -- Hamburg authorities have signed a deal with the city's Muslim community groups guaranteeing Islamic holidays, school religion lessons, and burial rights. It's the first agreement of its kind in Germany.
"Something that should be taken for granted has gained a lot of
attention," Hamburg's centre-left mayor Olaf Scholz said as he presented
the new agreement on Tuesday. It is the first ever deal between a
German state and its Muslim community, Scholz said - "a signal that
we're ready and willing to cooperate."
The 11-page agreement, which still has to be approved by the city
parliament, is meant to regulate religious freedoms, school lessons,
burial rituals, and recognition of Germany's constitution, the taz newspaper reported.
The deal, which has been in negotiations since 2007, was signed by the
council of Islamic communities (Schura), the Turkish-Islamic Union
(Ditib), the association of Islamic cultural centres (VIKZ), as well as
the city's Alevi community.
These community groups, representing the Hamburg's 120,000 Muslims, have
agreed to recognize the "basic values of constitutional order," to
reject "violence and discrimination based on origin, sexual orientation,
and faith" and "religious and political viewpoints," and to recognize
"equality between genders."
In exchange, Hamburg city authorities will declare Eid al-Adha
("Festival of Sacrifice"), Eid ul-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), and the Day
of Ashura ("Day of Mourning"), officially recognised holidays.
Muslim and Alevi workers will be allowed to take these days off, and
their children will be allowed to stay out of school if they wish -
under the same conditions that Christians can take Church holidays such
as the Day of Repentance off. This means they have the right to take the
day off - either taking it as holiday or in return for another working
The deal also promises Islamic communities more say in how religious lessons in school are formed.
Similar deals were signed with the city's Protestant and Catholic churches in 2005, and with the Jewish community in 2007.
Schura official Daniel Abdin described the agreement as "an important
step towards the institutional recognition of Islam in Germany," while
Aziz Aslandemir of the Alevi community organization said, "We hope that
this contract will be seen as a spark for other German states."