Oslo: Possible Islam Center at university

According to Professor Haakon Benestad, pro-rector at Oslo University, a new Islam Center might be opened at the university starting in 2008, giving BA degrees.

He said that there will also be a committe which will investigate what is needed to establish such a center. Representatives of Norwegian Muslims will also sit on the committee.

He said that they're starting to get to a finished draft of the studies plan. The courses will include various sides of Islam: introducing the different forms of Islam and the relationship between Islam and other religions. Language, literature and law will also be included in the courses. The intention is to give bachelor's and master's degree courses. Later it might also be possible to get a doctorate.

Benestad emphasizes that there is no talk of theological or spiritual education - what is known as "Imam schools". The courses are meant for Muslims, Christians and atheists alike.

The plans will be presented to the university administration in the budget meetings set for June. The administration had not yet expressed their position on the plans. Benestad expects that if the center will get funding it will start off with about 30 students.

The center is expected to employ people already employed at the university, and Benestad says that even if a sheik shows up with money, they will not employ many people. There is no intention of finding sponsors from Muslim countries, as the center expects to be independent.

Benestad thinks it will be interesting to see how much Muslims will take part in the new courses. Graduates will qualify for jobs in the academy world, as well as in public administration or industry.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

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