Islam and Democracy

Last Monday I moderated the session on „Islam and Democracy“ in the course on political theory here at the University of Education. The entire Seminar is lead by Prof. Dr. Burth.

When I posted on Facebook, about the preparations for the session,  some people already were very passionate about the subject. And it let to a pile of angry and controversial comments. Now as we have done the session and had some very interesting discussions in there as well, I feel I should write a little bit about it here as well.

I don’t think I can claim to speak authoritatively on that subject, as I had just a short glimpse into this area of study. However it was very interesting and I would hope that my fellow students here at the Politics and the new Islamic studies department, will think about it further and more thorough then I could.

For the discussion I prepared a paper wit the following points:

  1. Islam is compatible with democracy as much as Catholicism is compatible with democracy. The Koran can be interpreted so that it reads compatible with democracy or being compatible with a religious dictatorship.
  2. Islam does not equal Islam, there are enormous differences in religious practice, socio-economic Conditions, national background and interpretation of the scripture.
  3. Nation is still a valid framework for interpretation
  4. There are enormous differences in between Islamic, islamist or islam-inspired parties across the board
  5. Islamist is a invalid shortening for grouping parties. As Christiandemocract is a shortening when you look at the CDU, CVP or the American Republican Party.
  6. For us as students of politics and teachers we should try to create a „Islamic democracy pedagogy“

As a conclusion what do I think? Yes Islam is compatible with democracy, if you want that, as Catholicism is compatible with democracy. But as Catholicism it can be used as an ideological framework to justify oppression and authoritarianism; Islam can be used. However we here in the west have to invest much more time and efforts in trying to understand it. The issue will stay with us, especially with the Arab Spring.

„Islam and Democracy“ weiterlesen

NYRIS 11 Presentation

And here is the abstract and the slides to my presentation. I gave it at Mon 13 of June at NYRIS 11 in Turku in the stream 1 „active youth participation“

Youth councils in the German State of Baden-Württemberg (BW) and Finland

By: Sebastian Müller (University of Education Freiburg) June 14, 2011

Keywords: youth political attitudes, political participation, political behavior, democracy

What was the study about?

In both Finland and the German state of Baden-Württemberg, there are youth councils. Youth council was defined for the study as: “Elected bodies composed of people between the ages of 12 and 22, that are instituted by the local authority and deal with public policy.”

In recent years, the amount of youth councils has increased in both areas to more than 80 in BW and more than 90 in Finland. In BW, the spread of youth councils began around the mid 1990s, in Finland it began around the turn of the century. Both umbrella organizations have a working relationship since 2006, delegations visit each other annually and they participate in joint action.

There are very few scientific enquiries dealing specifically with youth councils, and up to now there was none dealing with them in both areas.

In both regions I sent out two kinds of questionnaires: one dealing with the structures and the other with attitudes of youth councilors. This questionnaire was based on the work done by Michael C. Hermann, who investigated youth councils in BW in 1995.

„NYRIS 11 Presentation“ weiterlesen