German government officials and representatives of Muslim organizations have met for the very first time in an attempt to initiate a dialogue between the state and Muslims living in Germany. The government hopes the talks will continue for at least two years and will result in a political pact with the Muslim community.
France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at between five and six million people. The majority live in the French capital, Paris, and there, Ramadan makes a real difference. The holy month is a joyous time of fellowship, worship and reflection. In multicultural neighbourhoods, such as Belleville, it’s also an opportunity for people with different religious backgrounds to mix.
There are significantly less Muslims in Sweden than in France but that doesn't mean the 300,000 strong community isn't facing its own issues of integration. Sweden's official policy is multiculturalism. But just what that means is a source of constant debate. One product of Sweden's search for its own brand of multiculturalism is Gringo magazine, which turns prejudice on its head by using the language of the suburbs where most of Sweden's immigrant population lives. Meryam Can, managing editor of the magazine, draws on her own Turkish-Swedish backgound to discuss integration and discrimination in Swedish society.
Although most of the debate around intergration and tolerance focuses on the conflicts between mainly Christian Europe and its Muslims immigrants, conflicts can also arise within Muslim communites themselves. This is the experience of the Alevis in Turkey. The Alevi are a sect of Islam and are very different from the main stream Islamic faith. Along with not fasting during Ramadan, they also don’t believe in the Hajj, and men and women pray together. It is estimated that up to a third of Turkey’s population are followers of Alevi. But such differences in the interpretation of Islam, especially during the time of Ramadan, can lead to tensions.
Ramadan is considered by Muslims the holiest month of the year. Prayers, fasting and charity are usually associated with Ramadan. The holiday is observed throughout the entire Islamic calendar month. Our question is... What is the name of this calendar? Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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