Mosque ignites German hostility

London Daily Telegraph | June 25, 2007

LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH – COLOGNE, Germany — The construction of one of Europe’s biggest mosques near a globally famous Christian landmark has sparked a furious dispute in Germany.

Immigration and integration are extremely sensitive issues in Germany, which is home to a Turkish community of several million.

But almost within the shadow of Cologne Cathedral, political correctness was replaced by bitter confrontation, as the city’s Muslims began building a 2,000-capacity mosque whose twin minarets will reach 170 feet.

“Muslims have been here for 40 years, yet people are praying in back rooms,” said Seyda Can, an Islamic theologian at the Turkish Islamic Union in Cologne. “There are 120,000 Muslims in Cologne, that’s 12 percent of the population. We should not hide.”

Work will begin this fall on the $30 million mosque, which will include huge glass and stone cupolas and two six-story minarets.

Ms. Can, who speaks fluent German, is an eloquent advocate for the mosque, arguing that when completed in 2009, it will aid the integration of a population sometimes regarded as outsiders. “With this mosque, Muslims will no longer think of their old countries as their home, but of Germany,” she said.

“Two hundred years ago, the first Protestant church was built in Cologne. It was a long process for Protestants to be accepted, but today, of course, they are. Why can’t we be the same?”

However, others believe the mosque in the city’s Ehrenfeld district, just two miles from the Gothic spires of Cologne Cathedral, will foster, rather than heal, divisions.

“It’s not a popular plan,” said Jorg Uckermann, the district’s deputy mayor.

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4 thoughts on “Mosque ignites German hostility”

  1. Since the Copts have been in Egypt for centuries before the creation of Islam, why not ask Ms. Can they are unable to build churches in Egypt and why religious freedom should be extended to Muslims whose theology denies it to others and why when the Koran recommends that Muslims lie to Infidels why we should believe anything she says.

  2. If Ms. Can is a Turk it would be also fair to ask why the Turkish governement keeps the Orthodox seminary closed, refuses to return Hagia Sophia to Christian hands, refuses to allow anyone but a Turkish citizen to be Patriarch of Constantiople while at the same time denying citizenship to qualified candidates? Also why she is advocating a policy, integration, that is directly in opposition to the Koran?

    Also how she can be a spokesperson for a faith in which her testimony is only worth half as much as a man’s? Does that mean we can only belief half of what she is saying?

    As proof of the sincerity of the Turks in Germany, I’d say that there should be a petition from them to the Turkish government requesting that the rights and priviledges they are asking in Germany be granted to the Christians in Turkey. Without such action there is nothing that denotes any integration.

  3. Note that as Turkish Muslims in Germany demand greater religious freedom, a court decision this week in Turkey continues to intefere with, and limit, religious freedom for Christians in Turkey
    Court rejects Orthodox Patriarch status

    ANKARA, Turkey — A court Tuesday backed Turkey’s long-held position that the Istanbul-based Orthodox Patriarch is only the head of the city’s tiny Greek Orthodox community and not the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.

    The decision has no influence on the status of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I outside Turkey, where he is regarded as the so-called “first among equals” of the Orthodox leaders. But it bolsters Turkey’s strong resistance to acknowledge a wider role for Bartholomew and his ancient Christian enclave.

    Turkey has strongly objected to giving concessions to the patriarchate, fearing it could open the doors to similar claims by other minority groups including Kurdish rebels fighting for greater autonomy. Officials in mostly Muslim Turkey also have been suspicious of the patriarchate’s close cultural and religious ties to longtime rival Greece.

    The court said Turkey could not give “special status” to any minority group. The ruling came as part of an appeals proceeding that upheld Bartholomew’s acquittal in a dispute with a Bulgarian priest.

    “The Patriarchate, which was allowed to remain on Turkish soil, is subject to Turkish laws,” the appeals court ruled. “There is no legal basis for the claims that the Patriarchate is ecumenical.”

    The Patriarchate’s spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Among Orthodox Christians, Bartholomew’s position holds great historical weight. The patriarchate dates from the Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when Ottoman forces conquered Constantinople – now Istanbul – in 1453.

    But he holds no direct sway over the more than a dozen autonomous Orthodox churches in Europe and the Holy Land. Bartholomew’s flock includes Istanbul’s 3,000 remaining Greek Orthodox and several other congregations scattered around the globe, including the United States.

    Turkey maintains tight controls, including rules requiring that patriarchs must be Turkish citizens. This sharply limits the potential pool of candidates to one day succeed Bartholomew. The patriarchate – backed by the Greece and other Orthodox nations – also has pressed Turkey to allow the reopening of a seminary that was forced to close more than two decades ago


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