Franco-German Seminar on Integration of Muslims in Germany and France

Franco-German Seminar on Integration of Muslims in Germany and France

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, in cooperation with the Aladdin Project, organized a seminar on October 18 in Berlin on “Muslims and Islam in German and French democracies: what integration?” More than 60 French and German parliamentarians, senior officials, representatives of the European Commission and the Council of Europe, religious leaders, experts and academics took part in the day-long discussions.

The seminar focused on the obstacles and opportunities of integration for a growing Muslim population in Europe, with a special emphasis on the specific conditions in Germany and France. The seminar dealt with three main topics: funding and organization of religious institutions and their public representation in France and Germany; the question of antisemitism and anti-Israeli attitudes among Muslims in Europe, and how European Muslims view women’s rights and freedom of conscience.

The discussion on funding and organization of Muslim religious institutions in France and Germany, moderated by French journalist Harold Hyman, began with a speech by Honey Deihimi, head of the department of social integration in the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Arnaud Schaumasse, a senior official of the French Interior Ministry responsible for the state’s relations with organized religious institutions; Ahmet Ogras, chair of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM); Khalil Merroun, rector of the Mosque of Evry and chair of the Union of French Mosques, and Hakim El Karoui, author of two reports from Montaigne Institute on “A French Islam Is Possible” and “Islamism”, were among the speakers during this part of the seminar. Other comments came from Dominique Bocquet, an expert on Franco-German cooperation, French parliamentarians Belkhir Belhaddad and Frederic Petit and German Bundestag Member Henryk Wichmann.

The panel on anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel included two informative reports from Michael Blume, who heads the efforts against antisemitism in Bade-Wurtemberg region of Germany, and Johannes Bormann, coordinator of the fight against antisemitism at the European Commission. Moche Lewin, Vice president of the Conference of European Rabbis, and Daniel Botmann, executive director of the umbrella Jewish organization in Germany, spoke about the situation in France and Germany.

The third panel, moderated by former German MP Cemile Giousouf, primarily focused on women’s rights in Muslim societies and the prevalent attitudes of European Muslims on this issue. The main speakers were French Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam and Professor Susanne Schroeter from Frankfurt am Main University.

The seminar achieved its objective of allowing a free and respectful debate on the three main topics, with the aim of developing policy recommendations and enriching the broader debate in Europe on integration and social cohesion.