“Islam in Germany is no Exceptional State”

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Parallel justice, child marriage, terrorism and general doubts about Islam’s ability to accept the European principle of separation of religion and the state – these topics currently determine the discussions of the European public sphere. The religion of Islam is observed critically, and its capability of adapting to European rule of law is questioned. Fears are determining the discourse.

This dynamic is also observed by Mathias Rohe, Islamic scholar, jurisprudence and head of the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe. He says: “We do not speak differentiated enough about Islam.” Many people had knowledge of the Religion as it was practiced in Saudi-Arabia or Iran, but knew too little about the living realities of Muslims  in Germany. In an interview with the German broadcasting station Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Rohe explains, which of the fears currently circulating the media were actually real: There actually was the danger of a strength regaining political Salafism and of other Islamist movements. One should not assuage these threats: Islam – just like any other religion or ideology – had violent potential, Rohe says. The relativizing statement that Islamist terrorism had “nothing to do with Islam” was hence unhelpful. The patriarchic world views that are common in many Islamic communities were also incompatible with German conventions. Some people might arrive in Germany perpetuating the cliché that European women were “an easy lay”. This worldview was a huge matter in terms of integration, the Islamic scholar told the magazine “Der Spiegel”: “We are now confronted with a globalization that also has its shady sides”.

However, Rohe also states that a critical examination with their holy scriptures was already practiced by many Muslims in Europe – “e.g. among the Islamic theologians at the Universities.” The fear of Muslims being unable to bring the demands of their religion in line with the German rule of law is rejected by Rohe: “This point of view misses out the evident variety of Muslim positions on this topic”. Many European Muslims considered the segregation of the Muslim from a Non-Muslim world as outdated: “Only extremists do not follow this line of argumentation”, Rohe writes in a blog entry for the newspaper “Huffington Post”. He cites a study which developed that only 10 & of the full-aged Muslims living in Germany currently distanced themselves from democratic and judicial values. Here, a correlation between these points of view and precarious ways of living was also seen and to be kept in mind, according to Rohe.

For a majority of Muslims, being tied to their religion and living in accordance with German law was not contradictory: Those are “people, who want to maintain their religious identity but also understand themselves as an integral part of German society.” They saw themselves as local and should hence be treated like it. For Mathias Rohe, it is clear: “Islam in Germany is no structural exceptional state anymore.”


The cited articles and more Information can be found here: Rheinische Post, Huffington Post, NDR, der Spiegel