ANKARA: German Research Team Finds Muslim Course Books Tolerant And

GERMAN RESEARCH TEAM FINDS MUSLIM COURSE BOOKS TOLERANT AND OBJECTIVE
ÝsmaÝ Kul Frankfurt

Today’s Zaman, Turkey
June 8 2007

Research conducted by academics from the German Erlangen-Nurnberg
University on the level of tolerance toward Christianity in course
books used in Muslim countries revealed that these materials display
a high degree of tolerance toward Christianity and all other faiths.

A group of scientists, under the presidency of Chair of Protestant
Studies at Erlangen-Nurnberg University Professor Johannes Lahnemann,
put Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and
Algeria under close scrutiny to determine the level of tolerance
towards other faiths in textbooks in these countries, with specific
attention paid to Christianity. The results of the research, published
as a two-volume work, revealed that religious tolerance played a
large role in course books in Muslim countries but maintained that
Christianity was overshadowed by Islam.

According to the research, the textbooks approached Christianity in a
similar manner and none of the religions with holy books were portrayed
as negative. However, the researchers also found that according to
some of the course books, Christianity is the predecessor of Islam
as its book the Holy Bible was altered, and hundreds of Bibles,
all containing different details on different events, were reduced
to four during the First Council of Nicaea (Ýznik) in A.D. 325. The
religious course books also acknowledged that God wasn’t begotten
and doesn’t beget, and because of that, the doctrine of the Trinity
was invented by late Christians who finalized it at the Council of
Constantinople in A.D. 381.

The researchers also found, to their astonishment, that particularly
educated Muslims acknowledged, respected and loved Jesus, Mary,
Moses and all other prophets and that the scripture of Islam, the
Holy Koran, included over 100 verses extolling and venerating the
venerable Jesus and his mother Mary, to whom, according to Islam,
Jews falsely imputed and still impute both the sins of adultery and
fabrication. The course books also dwell on the negative outcomes
of the Crusades and colonialism, which still distort the image of
Christianity in the sight of millions.

The report drawn up by the researchers also addresses each country
separately:

It is said that the secular system in Turkey had a strong impact
on the education system, which claims to educate students through
an objective perspective, whereas Islamic thought is still clearly
prevalent particularly during religious knowledge lessons. The report
also highlights the vast tolerance in Turkey that is reflected in the
efforts of Turkish teachers to inform the students on all faiths as
objectively as possible.

The section on Iran says religion is the central power in school
education, that everything is approached through the Islamic
perspective, but that minorities are given the right to study their
own religions and that there are 36 Armenian schools in Tehran alone.

In Egypt, according to the Protestant researchers, a moderately
conservative lesson policy is followed. The Gypsy Christian Church is
recognized; however, neither the course books of the Gypsy Christians
nor those of Muslims mention one another. The Muslim course books make
a reference to the Crusades while mentioning Christianity. The report
notes that in Palestine the course books used in Egypt and Jordan were
used for years, but in the recent years Muslim, Christian and Jewish
circles were trying to establish closer ties to one another. It is
further noted that this process was suffering a slowdown, if not a
complete halt, owing to new political developments.

The scholars behind the research are also making efforts and holding
talks to be able to eradicate all the prejudices that exist in course
books in many countries.

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