Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, has concluded a "historic treaty" with its Muslim communities that grants Muslims broad new rights and privileges but does little to encourage their integration into German society.

The November 13 agreement, signed by Hamburg's Socialist Mayor Olaf Scholz and the leaders of four Muslim umbrella groups, is being praised by the proponents of multiculturalism for putting the northern port city's estimated 200,000 Muslims on an equal footing with Christian residents.

But critics say the agreement, the first of its kind in Germany, will boost the growing influence of Islam in Hamburg and will encourage the perpetuation of a Muslim parallel society in the city.

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