Translator: Rümeysa Şevval Ayvaz
Germany is one of the diverse countries in Europe and is home to a significant Muslim population. In the German army, individuals from various faiths benefit from pastoral care, a support service aimed at improving one’s health and spiritual well-being. With approximately 3,000 Muslim soldiers serving in the German army, it is crucial that they have access to pastoral care and the ability to learn and practice their religion freely, similar to individuals of other faiths. In this article, we will discuss a significant development that highlights the need to address the spiritual needs of Muslim soldiers and takes a step forward in meeting those needs.
PRO, a Christian magazine, emphasized the importance of creating an environment where soldiers of all faiths can freely practice their religion and fulfill their beliefs. They announced the launch of a campaign for Islamic military chaplains initiated by politicians.
In February 2023, the Islamic College in Osnabrück, Germany, graduated its first class of Muslim Pastoral Care Course participants. The graduation of the first batch opened the door for discussions among lawmakers regarding the necessity of implementing military imams.
According to a letter mentioned in Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish military chaplains already make indispensable contributions to the pastoral care of soldiers and their families. Unlike neighboring countries such as Switzerland, this support has long been denied to Muslim soldiers. Religious support within the military is of great importance to the government.
The letter, signed by Konstantin Kuhle (FDP), Filiz Polat (Greens), and Aydan Özoğuz (SDP), is awaiting approval from the Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser, and Defense Commissioner Eva Högl.
Just a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable to even discuss such a right, but now the fact that such a request has been made to ministers demonstrates a determined effort in this regard. The graduation of the first class from the Islamic College’s Muslim Pastoral Care Course is also a highly promising development that gives us hope. We hope that this campaign, aimed at providing spiritual support for Muslim soldiers, will yield positive results in the shortest possible time.