Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | 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

We will `strangle` US-backed force in Syria `before it`s even born`: Erdogan

We will `strangle` US-backed force in Syria `before it`s even born`: Erdogan

Reuters: Beirut :Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Monday to "strangle" a planned 30,000-strong US-backed force in Syria "before it's even born," as Washington's backing for Kurdish fighters drove a wedge

Modi, Netanyahu vow to combat terrorism boost defence ties

Modi, Netanyahu vow to combat terrorism boost defence ties

PTI, New Delhi :Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday held "wide ranging and intensive" talks to bolster cooperation in key areas such as defence

Melania, America's enigmatic first lady

Melania, America's enigmatic first lady

AFP, New York :Groomed to perfection yet rarely heard in public, Melania Trump is an enigma-a first lady whose opinions, marriage and goals remain a mystery to millions of Americans.She

Philippines' president made call on China's sea research

Reuters, Manila  :Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte personally made a decision to let China conduct scientific research off the Philippines' Pacific coast, his spokesman said on Monday, despite concern among critics

 November mid-terms, 2020 primaries

November mid-terms, 2020 primaries

Donald Trump's political future may well hinge on 2018, when he risks losing control of Congress in crucial elections that kick off the next White House battle-likely to pit the

News In Brief

Measles outbreak kills 58 children in IndonesiaAP, JayapuraIndonesian authorities are struggling to contain a monthslong outbreak of measles in easternmost Papua province that has killed dozens of children.Stefanus Lange, a

China races to prevent environmental disaster after tanker sinks

China races to prevent environmental disaster after tanker sinks

AFP :Chinese ships scrambled Monday to clean up a massive oil spill after an Iranian tanker sank off China, raising fears of devastating damage to marine life.The Sanchi, carrying

Philippine news website's licence revoked after Duterte threat

Philippine news website's licence revoked after Duterte threat

AFP  :The Philippine government has revoked the operating licence of leading news website Rappler, officials said Monday in a ruling denounced by President Rodrigo Duterte's critics as another blow

Modi gives warm welcome to Netanyahu

BBC online :Diplomatic talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu are set to begin on Monday during the latter's first official trip to

15 hurt in knife incident at Russian school

AP, Moscow :Russian authorities say 15 people have been hurt in a knife incident at a school in the Ural mountains city of Perm.The local department of the Investigative