8319Islam and Muslims in Germany: German Mosques Build Bridges
- Oct 20, 2007German Mosques Build Bridges
By Nabil Shbeib, IOL Correspondent
Thu. Oct. 4, 2007
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
"The Open Mosque shows that Muslims are part and
parcel of society," says Bekir Alboga, a spokesman for
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
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
The Open Mosque Day has been much publicized in the
Many TV and radio broadcasts dedicated time to talk
about the event with some running live shows from
"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
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.