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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 16:08 GMT
Germany pushes Muslim integration
German Muslim protesters
Mr Schaeuble wants to prevent Muslim alienation in Europe
Germany's interior minister has called for an EU-wide dialogue with Muslims in an effort to integrate them better.

Wolfgang Schaeuble suggested that the EU should promote the training of imams to encourage Muslim leaders who were comfortable with European values.

He compared parts of the Islamic world to pre-Enlightenment Europe, and criticised both the burka veil and traditional Muslim attitudes to women.

He pledged to use his country's EU presidency to promote integration.

He wanted training for imams that could "strengthen those who can live with the European rule of law, universal rights and the achievements of the Enlightenment", he said, referring to the 17th Century European movement that put reason and universal rights ahead of tradition.

"There are still parts of the Muslim world where historical enlightenment still needs to be implemented," he told Brussels-based journalists on Thursday.

"We should not be arrogant but only helpful. After all, Christianity waged terrible conflicts for a few centuries until the process of Enlightenment took root."

He echoed senior British politician Jack Straw when he said he thought the all-over burka worn by some Muslim women was "an element that hinders communication".

But he said he did not believe it was politicians' role to decide what people should wear.

However, equal rights for women was a universal principle that should be defended everywhere, he said, not just "some peculiarity" of Europe.


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