Minister of State Böhmer met the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar in Berlin on 15 March. The Grand Sheikh was accompanied by his legal advisor Mohamed Abdelsalam Abdelatif, the Egyptian Ambassador Badr Abdelatty and Mouhanad Khorchide from the University of Münster.
As the Grand Imam, the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar presides over the Azhar scholars’ council as a religious institution and is also the formal head of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo. The Azhar assumed a prominent role in the religious interpretation of Sunni Islam from the 12th century.
Mutual tolerance and respect
The primary purpose of their meeting was to send a signal that peaceful coexistence of different religions is only possible by putting mutual tolerance and respect into practice. The Minister of State said the following:
Social cohesion is of paramount importance at a time when the world appears to be getting out of joint. Germany is a country of immigration. In the past year, almost one million refugees came to us, the vast majority of whom are of Muslim faith. The great number of refugees is posing new challenges for our country with respect to the coexistence of different religions.
A foundation of shared values must be put into practice
The Minister of State said that a foundation of shared values was necessary to ensure peaceful coexistence. This foundation was enshrined in Germany’s Basic Law, Böhmer continued. The fundamental rights that guarantee human dignity, freedom of religion and equality between men and women in particular were of essential importance, she said.
While she emphasised that social participation and Muslims’ contribution to the country’s religious, cultural and social life were very important, she said that Germany also expected its values to be respected and put into practice.