Two of Germany's biggest Muslim federations, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) and the Islamrat ("Islam council"), have failed in their bid to get schools in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) to adopt Islamic religious lessons.

The higher administrative court in Münster turned down the federations' suit last week on the grounds that they did not fulfill all the criteria of a religious association as defined by the German constitution, and so could not claim the same privileges that the Protestant and Catholic churches have in Germany.

The court said that the two associations do not possess the necessary authority over Germany's Muslim community to claim the status. While the state's Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer welcomed the decision, both the associations issued statements expressing their disappointment.

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