Monday, September 25, 2017 | ePaper

Taboo-breaking liberal mosque opens in Berlin

  • Print


Lawyers and women\'s rights activist Seyran Ates opened the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque with words of welcome before Christian and Jewish guests and a large media contingent.

AFP, Berlin :
With a mission to spread a liberal form of Islam, a mosque where men and women pray side by side has opened its doors in Berlin, complete with female imams.
The Arabic phrase "Allahu Akbar" ('God is greatest') resonated through the crowded Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque Friday as US-Malaysian Ani Zonneveld, one of the world's few female imams, launched the call to prayer.
Then one of the founders of the new place of worship, lawyer and women's rights activist Seyran Ates, opened the event with words of welcome before Christian and Jewish guests and a large media contingent.
"We want to send a signal against Islamic terror and the misuse of our religion," said Turkish-born Ates, 54, dressed in a long white robe. "We want to practise our religion together."
Ates-no stranger to breaking taboos, having called for a "sexual revolution" in the Muslim world-vowed she would not allow ultra-conservatives "to rob me of my right to be Muslim".
Kneeling on green carpets, the faithful-men and women, side by side-bowed to Mecca for the traditional prayer as the imam spoke in German.
Some of the women wore veils or head coverings, others did not.
The new mosque, the 88th in the German capital, is located in a rented room on the third floor of the Protestant Johanniskirche (St. John's Church) building.
All Muslims-Sunni or Shia, Alawite or Sufi-are welcome in the mosque named after one of Germany's greatest writers, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and 12th century Islamic scholar Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroes.
The seven founding members said they want to open their prayer hall to all groups, including gays and lesbians.
"This mosque allows Muslims to define themselves in a new way," said co-founder and German Islam scholar Abdel-Hakim Ourghi.
He added that "we will try to depoliticise Islam", as the religion was being torn by rival political movements. "Because religion is a private matter."
Police stood guard outside the entrance of the building.
The founders said they had not received any threats or insults, but that they fully expected not everyone would be happy.
Germany, with some four million Muslims, has been the target of jihadist attacks, the deadliest last December when a truck tore through a Berlin Christmas market crowd killing 12 people.
The arrival of more than one million refugees, most from mainly Muslim countries, since 2015 has worsened the fears of some Germans.

More News For this Category

Syrian army captures 44 towns, villages from IS in two weeks

Syrian army captures 44 towns, villages from IS in two weeks

Xinhua, Damascus :The Syrian army and allied fighters have captured 44 towns and villages in central and eastern Syria from Islamic State (IS) militants since Sept. 10, state news

Macron's popularity improving: Poll

Macron's popularity improving: Poll

Reuters, ParisĀ  :Fewer French voters are dissatisfied with Emmanuel Macron's performance, a poll showed on Sunday, halting a recent slide in the popularity ratings of the French president in

Fighter jets, drones on table as Mattis visits key ally India

Fighter jets, drones on table as Mattis visits key ally India

AFP, New Delhi :Fighter jets, drone deals and shared concerns over Afghanistan's security look set to dominate the agenda when US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits India this week.Mattis

News In Brief

Iran launches war games near Iraqi Kurdistan borderReuters, Dubai Iranian forces have launched war games in an area near the border with Iraq's Kurdistan region, Iran's state media reported

Missile strike on US inevitable: N Korean FM

Missile strike on US inevitable: N Korean FM

AP, United Nations :North Korea's foreign minister told world leaders Saturday that U.S. President Donald Trump's insult calling leader Kim Jong Un "rocket man" makes "our rocket's visit to

Duterte says he became local millionaire due to inheritance

AP, Davao :The Philippine president says he became a local millionaire at a young age due to inheritance and reiterated he has no unexplained wealth as alleged by his

Russia urges calm as US, North Korea tempers flare

Russia urges calm as US, North Korea tempers flare

Reuters, United Nations :Russia urged "hot heads" to calm down on Friday as the United States admitted it felt "challenged" by North Korea's warning that it could test a

Kurds press historic independence vote despite regional fears

Kurds press historic independence vote despite regional fears

Reuters, Erbil :Iraqi Kurds are expected to vote for independence in a referendum on Monday that neighboring countries and Western powers fear could break up the country and stir

News In Brief

Iran tests new missile defying US warningsAFP, TehranIran said on Saturday that it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile in defiance of warnings from Washington that it was

US election hacking impacted 21 states, Fed confirm

US election hacking impacted 21 states, Fed confirm

AP, Florida ;The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year's presidential election.The notification came roughly a year after