Germany to Consult with Croatia’s Islamic Community

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Germany might copy some elements of the Croatian model for regulating relations with Muslims.

Germany could soon introduce the “Croatian model of Islam”. German Minister of State for European Affairs Michael Roth, who recently met with Aziz Hasanović, Mufti of the Islamic Community in Croatia, was so impressed with relations between Islamic Community and the state that he immediately informed about it German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reports Jutarnji List on January 19, 2017.

“I have been invited to Berlin in order to convey our experiences, which do not exist in Germany, and to organize meetings at which we would present the principles that could be partially implemented in German society”, said the Mufti. He added that, after their meeting, Minister Roth immediately posted on his Facebook profile a message to the Islamic Community in Croatia, thanking them for “their commitment to democracy, humanity, peace, respect and tolerance”.

The “Croatian model” which the Islamic Community could offer to Germany and Europe consists of mutual respect between the state and the Islamic Community. On the one hand, the state is open to integrate Muslims into Croatian society, while on the other hand there is willingness of the Islamic Community in Croatia to integrate itself into the society, in order to avoid assimilation which is always a threat to minorities.

In practice, this is accomplished by a contract signed between the state and the Islamic Community, which recognizes its legitimacy. It is financed from the state budget, there is the right to religious education in primary and secondary schools, it can open its own religious schools and found media outlets, the faithful can take a day off for religious holidays, there is also a contract with Croatian Radio Television which ensures media exposure. Halal meals are provided in schools, hospitals, prisons, army and police, as well as spiritual services.

Last year, Islam marked one hundred years since being officially recognized in Croatia. “The biggest problem in Europe with regards to Islam is non-recognition of Islam as a religion which is equal within the legal framework of most European countries. To have five million people in a country who profess the religion of Islam and not recognize their rights which another religion has can cause frustration and dissatisfaction.

Some countries believe that it is sufficient to feed the citizens for their integration into society. However, examples of many countries show the opposite. States should not ignore spiritual dimension of men and women. In many countries, majority of Muslims are no longer immigrants, asylum seekers or foreigners, but citizens whose rights will not in any way change the identity of Europe. On the contrary, they will enrich them, said Mufti Hasanović, adding that it was essential to internationalize Muslim communities in Europe, introduce legislation, officially recognize Islam at the EU level, and establish accountability within Muslim communities. In 2014, Hasanović’s proposal was supported by Pope Francis during their meeting in the Vatican.


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