A training course for imams at Geneva University, introducing them to Swiss law and values, is yielding results. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
The course organisers say Muslim communities are pleased that their representatives are being sent for training. As part of the "integration" course funded by the canton, nine imams are studying at the university.
The Geneva course is not the only one of its kind in Switzerland. In bilingual Fribourg (French and German-speaking), the conservative right Swiss People’s Party tried to stop the opening of the Centre for Islam and Society (SZIG)external link, which provides courses for imams on Swiss culture and society. Experts agreed that such a ban was discriminatory because it was directed against the members of a single religion in breach of the Swiss constitution.
The director of the SZIG, Hansjörg Schmid, says about half of the 200 imams thought to be practicing in Switzerland participated in the first 26 workshops. "With these workshops, we have made a contribution to social co-existence," he added.
Meanwhile, German-speaking Switzerland is also doing its bit towards integration. Last summer, the University of Bern launched chaplaincy training courses for imams and representatives of other denominations active in the field of asylum, hospitals and prisons. It's headed by one of the professors, Isabelle North, who believes it helps to prevent radicalisation.