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8319Islam and Muslims in Germany: German Mosques Build Bridges

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  • Zafar Khan
    Oct 20, 2007
      German Mosques Build Bridges
      By Nabil Shbeib, IOL Correspondent
      Thu. Oct. 4, 2007

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1190886122975&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      BERLIN — An annual Muslim campaign to open mosques for
      non-Muslim visitors is drawing more curious Germans,
      particularly as it falls this year during the holy
      fasting month of Ramadan.
      "I wanted my five-year-old kid to get answers for his
      questions about different faiths," said Kirstin, who
      took her son Anton on a tour of a Berlin mosque on
      Wednesday, October 3, as part of the Open Mosque Day.

      Accompanied by Muslim guides Pinar Cetin and her
      husband Ender, a group of 100 non-Muslim visitors
      toured the mosque, asking questions about the Islamic
      faith and how Muslims practice their rituals.

      Organized by the umbrella Coordination Council of
      Muslims in Germany (KRM), nearly 2,000 mosques and
      prayer halls took part in the Day this year.

      Shows and exhibitions have been organized by Muslim
      organizations to promote the "Mosques…Bridges for
      Common Future" annual event.

      Groups of Muslim guides were also formed to answer
      questions by curious visitors and make presentations
      when needed.

      "The Open Mosque shows that Muslims are part and
      parcel of society," says Bekir Alboga, a spokesman for
      KRM.

      Launched in 1997, the Day usually draws thousands of
      non-Muslim visitors every year.

      The curious visitors ask questions about Islam,
      Islamic teachings and how Muslims practice their
      faith.

      Germany is home to some 3.2 million Muslims, over half
      of whom are of Turkish origin.

      Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and
      Catholic Christianity.

      Positive

      The Open Mosque Day has been much publicized in the
      local media.

      Many TV and radio broadcasts dedicated time to talk
      about the event with some running live shows from
      inside mosques.

      "Islam is usually associated with intolerance and
      terrorism," said Gunter Pening, commissioner of
      integration affairs in Germany.

      "But these initiatives help promote co-existence
      between people of different faiths and backgrounds."

      Burhan Kisegis from the Turkish Islamic Union (DITIB)
      said the Open Day helps educate non-Muslims about the
      role mosques play in the lives of Muslims.

      "Mosques are now organizing training courses for imams
      and ordinary Muslims to learn German and get
      acquainted with all aspects of life in Germany," he
      said.

      Mosques are also tackling everyday-life problems
      facing German Muslims, Kisegis said.

      "Integration has also become a top issue inside the
      mosques," he said.

      Organizers hope the Open Mosque campaign would help
      ease opposition to the construction of mosques.

      A plan by DITIB to build a stately mosque in Cologne
      has met opposition on claims that it would be too big
      for a city housing one of the most imposing Gothic
      cathedrals in the Christian world.

      Leading the anti-mosque campaign is Pro Cologne, a
      far-right organization which has held five seats in
      Cologne's city council since 2004.

      A mosque project in Pankow, an eastern Berlin area,
      sparked clashes with neo-Nazi groups with a truck
      being torched at the construction site.

      Germany has some 170 mosques and 2600 prayer halls.