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Lucerne pioneers teaching of Islam

Muslim men in Switzerland attend prayers Keystone

Canton Lucerne is breaking new ground in Switzerland by introducing the teaching of Islam in schools.

This content was published on August 16, 2002 - 17:11

When the new term starts in Lucerne next week, pupils in two communes - Kriens and Ebikon - will be given the option of studying the religion.

If the pilot project proves successful, Islam could soon be on the curriculum of schools across the country.

"We hope the project will become the accepted thing [in Switzerland]," said Ibrahim Salah of the Association of Muslim Organisations in Switzerland.

Greater understanding

Salah added that teaching the religion would ensure a correct understanding of Islam among young Muslims: "If a person understands his religion correctly he will not become a fundamentalist."

The cantonal education authorities' decision to launch the project follows lobbying by the canton Lucerne association of Islamic organisations.

It falls into line with newly introduced education legislation in Lucerne, which gives school directors the right to decide on religious instruction in their schools.

No rules

According to Susanne Markees of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, there are no specific rules in Switzerland governing the teaching of religion.

"We do recommend, however, that children of foreign cultures receive an education in their own language and culture."

The canton has appointed two female teachers to teach the classes to primary school children in Kriens and Ebikon - suburbs of the city of Lucerne, which is home to a considerable foreign population.

Although only around two per cent of the Swiss population are Muslim, Islam is the second biggest religion in Switzerland after Christianity.

swissinfo

Islam

The course is a pilot project that could become part of schools' curriculum.
The canton's Islamic association lobbied to launch the project.
Islam is the second-biggest religion in Switzerland after Christianity.

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