Fribourg University is to be the first Swiss institution to offer a course to imams and Muslim community leaders on understanding how Swiss society works. The vocational training is also open to non-Muslims with the purpose of fostering cross-cultural knowledge. It has largely been welcomed by the Islamic community.

The course will start in October and is organised by the university, the Group of Researchers on Islam in Switzerland (GRIS) and the Paris-based International Institute of Islamic Thought.

Stéphane Lathion, GRIS head and director of the “Islam, Muslims and Civil Society” course, said there are currently no practical studies on Islam and society in Switzerland. “The idea is to offer some answers to the federal and cantonal authorities which in recent years have had to deal with problems linked to the Muslim community, such as people not keeping to the principles of Swiss democracy,” he told swissinfo. “So there’s the problem of how to be sure that imams and community leaders know about Swiss society and on the other hand, Muslims themselves are calling for their leaders to be better trained about the Swiss situation.”

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