Tuebingen University to offer Germany's first imam training course

Tuebingen, Germany - The University of Tuebingen is to offer Germany's first training programme for Islamic clergy from 2011, the education ministry for the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg announced on Tuesday.

The university, near the south-western city of Stuttgart, plans to appoint six professors in the coming years, to train up to 320 imams to work at mosques as well as performing pedagogical and social work, the ministry said.

Experts have said that the integration of Germany's 4 million Muslims is hindered by the fact that most imams come from Turkey, speak little German and are not familiar with western European culture.

Baden-Wuerttemberg's state government decided on Monday to open a faculty for Islamic studies in a year's time. The state is currently applying for federal funding for the project.

At present, very few of Germany's Islamic religion teachers are trained in the country. Those who are mostly attend the university of Muenster.

Tuebingen University aims to appoint Muslim theologians who have completed a part of their academic career in Germany, principal Bernd Engler told the German Press Agency dpa.