Hamburg, May 31, IRNA
Leading German-based Shia ulema and activists on Saturday gathered at the Islamic Center in Hamburg (IZH) for one- day conference to discuss prospects for a nationwide registered Shia federation in Germany.
“These are the first steps for launching and registering a legal federation in the region for Shia organizations,” the deputy head of the IZH, Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Mohammad Nasser Taghavi told IRNA on the sidelines of the opening session of the confab.
He added that the meeting of the Islamic-European Union of Shia ulema and active members of Shia centers and communities in Germany (IEUS) was also to focus on specific problems of Shia groups and communities in Germany.
There are presently around 100 registered Shia groups, mainly comprised of Arabs, Turks, Germans, Pakistanis, Iranians, Afghanis, Indians in Germany, according to a report released earlier in the day.
Expressing his condolences on the 19th anniversary of the late Imam Khomeini (RA), the director of the IZH Ayatollah Seyyed Abbas Ghaemmaghami pointed in his inaugural speech to hundreds of conference delegates to the 50-year history of Shia organizations in Germany.
He stressed the need “to preserve the Shia identity in Europe and Germany.”
Ghaemmaghami made clear that Muslims are today an integral part of German society.
The Shia leader urged Muslims to have a “sense of responsibility towards their society.”
He said that Muslims had accepted the notion of integration which Ghaemmaghami viewed as vital for “social cohesion.”
The Ayatollah emphasized that society had also “to respect individual beliefs.”
“Society should not demand from a person to set aside his individual identity and should accept individual differences,” Ghaemmaghami said.
He also called for more “self-criticism” in the ongoing dialogue among religions in a bid for a better understanding of the other side.
Founded in 1953, the Islamic Center in Hamburg has become an important base for Shias in Germany.
Encouraged by the late Ayatollah Boroujerdi, Hojjatoleslam Mohagheghi spearheaded the construction of the IZH mosque in the mid-1950s.
Other IZH directors included Shahid Ayatollah Beheshti and former Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami.