The Goethe University in Frankfurt will offer courses this winter in Islamic theology, which might sound to some people like damning evidence of "Eurabia" creeping into Europe's higher institutions. But the new Islamic Studies program "will educate not just theologians and the next generation of religious academics, but also specialists in Islamic theology," says professor Ömer Özsoy, who heads the department.
The program belongs to a new fashion: Europe educating its own imams. Experts have warned for years that Islamic religious leaders in Europe have been trained abroad, in Arabic or Turkish. Rauf Ceylan, a professor of religious studies in Osnabrück, Germany, says imams in his country by and large can't understand the problems of their flocks or speak the language.
"Seventy-five percent of the imams in our mosques are conservative traditionalists," he told Der Spiegel this year. "They oppose quick reform and perpetuate traditional role models, like those regarding relations between men and women. … They live in their enclaves, speak little German, [and] don't understand that the role of imam is different in Germany from the role in Turkey."