HAMBURG, Germany, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Hamburg, Germany, has signed an agreement with Muslim groups in which officials say they will recognize Islamic holidays and improve religion courses in schools.
The deal is the first of its kind in Germany, Der Spiegel reported Thursday.
Representatives of the Muslim and Alevi communities agreed to the deal, which will give Muslim holidays the same status as non-mandatory Christian holidays. Muslims wishing to observe their religious days can now use a vacation day or make up the time.
The agreement must still be approved by the city-state's parliament. It also guarantees the teaching of Islamic courses in schools and burial rights.
While largely symbolic, the deal has been praised by other cities in Germany.
Richard Meng, spokesman for the government of Berlin, said the agreement "opened the way for more openness and tolerance." Berg noted that Berlin had already approved similar measures.
Non-denominational religious courses, typically taught by Protestants, will see the biggest change. The curriculum will now modified in the next five years to include Muslims and Alevi, a liberal branch of Islam.
Still, Islamic groups won't have the same legal standing as Christian churches, which receive a church tax levied on members by the German government.
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