Dutch Attempts to Educate Moderate Imams Can't Be Rushed, Muslim Leader Says

August 3, 2005

Source: Reuters


On August 3, 2005 Reuters reported, "The Dutch have a problem with Islam and they're in a hurry to solve it. They're finding out, however, that some problems just refuse to be rushed... Neighboring states such as France, Belgium and Germany are considering ways to mold future Muslim generations, but none seem to have gone as far and as fast as the Netherlands.

'Today, members of the government, politicians, policymakers and others are actively engaged in defining for Muslims the "proper" conduct of Muslim citizens,' Islam expert Dick Douwes told a recent conference here on the issue.

'Some even maintain that Islam should be subjected to an instant Enlightenment to enable Muslims to become modern citizens,' said the executive director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World in Leiden.

But the politicians' timeframe is a fraction of the decade or so that classical imam training takes. Many imams devote years just to learning Arabic -- if it is not their mother tongue -- and memorizing the Koran.

'We've told the government that this kind of thing can't be rushed,' said Ayhan Tonca, Turkish-born head of the Contact Group for Muslims and Government (CMO), the main Muslim group here. 'It takes at least 6 or 10 years to educate imams.'"