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Old 07-06-2007, 05:48 PM   #1
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mosque dispute in Germany

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On Muslim holidays, hundreds of faithful hoping to pray at the Ditib Mosque in Cologne, Germany must spread their prayer rugs in a nearby parking lot and follow the service from afar on loudspeakers. The mosque only holds 600 people.
Yet plans to replace the flat-roofed storefront mosque with a new house of worship, complete with a dome and two 54-meter-tall (177-feet-tall) minarets, have triggered an angry response from right-wing groups and, most recently, Cologne's Roman Catholic archbishop.

Mehmet Orman, 43, a Turkish immigrant who prays every night at Ditib Mosque—ignoring its broken windows and worn-out prayer rugs—hopes construction can begin as scheduled by the end of the year.

"There are 2.7 million Turks in Germany; of course we need a big, representative mosque in this country," Orman said.

Construction of traditional mosques in Germany and elsewhere in Europe has often involved such handwringing. Mosques have faced similar opposition in France, the scene of riots in largely Muslim suburbs in 2005, as well as Britain, the recent target of a new wave of Islamic terrorism.

But the Ditib Mosque project holds particular significance in Cologne, which has such a prominent Catholic heritage that Pope Benedict XVI has dubbed it the "Rome of the North.”

Last month, dozens of right-wing extremists from all over Germany, Austria and Belgium demonstrated against the construction of the Cologne mosque, claiming that the building would "fortify the Muslims' claim to power in Christian Europe," in the words of Manfred Rouhs, the demonstration's organizer.

Rouhs heads the right-wing Pro Cologne movement, which has collected 18,000 signatures from local citizens against the disputed mosque. The mosque would be located in a vivid immigrant neighborhood filled with Turkish teahouses, kebab restaurants and gold jewelry stores.

It is not only the extremist fringe that is upset, however. Opposition to the mosque has also built up in the center of the German society.

Joachim Meisner, the archbishop of Cologne, said in a widely publicized interview on the radio station Deutschlandfunk that the construction of the mosque would make him "feel unwell" and that the "immigration of Muslims has created a breach in our German, European culture."

Mehmet Yildirim, the director of Ditib, a Turkish-Islamic umbrella group for 700 German mosques, called the objections of the mosque's opponents "racist and insulting."

"We shouldn't have to justify that we need a house for prayer in Germany," Yildirim, 56, said in an interview at Ditib's headquarters in Cologne.

Yet Meisner's words count a lot in Cologne, which is one of Germany's most devoutly Roman Catholic cities and is known worldwide for its twelve Romanesque churches and its 750-year-old cathedral with two 157-meter (515-feet) landmark steeples.

The dispute further escalated when Ralph Giordano, a prominent German writer and Jewish Holocaust survivor, also opposed the mosque's construction and declared the integration of Muslim immigrants in Germany a failure. Germans and Muslim immigrants were living in parallel societies, he claimed.

"I don't want to meet burqas and chadors on German streets, nor do I want to hear the call of the muezzin from towering minarets," Giordano, 84, wrote in a commentary for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily newspaper.

In reaction, Giordano said he has received six phone calls of death threats from Turks.

With a size of 4,500 square meters (48,440 square feet), the future mosque would be one of the biggest in Germany. It would accommodate up to 2,000 worshippers and house an Islamic library, facilities for cultural events and several stores. The construction would cost between $20 and $40 million and mostly be financed by private donations.

Approximately 3.3 million Muslims live in Germany, of which 70 percent are originally from Turkey.

While the city has not yet issued the final building permit, many city council members are in favor of the controversial construction, said Marlis Bredehorst, Cologne's official on integration issues.

"It is important that the Muslims here have dignified houses of prayer—they are part of our society," Bredehorst said. "Two hundred years ago, the Protestants had to pray secretively in Catholic Cologne. That is something we can't imagine anymore today."
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:09 PM   #2
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We have the left, the right and center uniting.

I don't have a politically correct response.

It is easy to feel intolerance towards Muslims.
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:25 PM   #3
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There is a bit more to the story than meets the eye, so I have read.

One, the design is meant to be monumental, particularly the minarets. I can't vouch for the claim, but word is that these minarets would be taller and more dominating of the skyline than the churches in town. Possibly a dominating or triumphal gesture that is not necessary or called for.

Second, these giant mosques, funded by "private" donations, are mostly funded by the Saudis or like minded groups with billions to throw around. In prior cases, the library that they mention in the story, has subsequently been stocked with Islamist or Wahhabi teaching materials. Further, after putting the community in the debt of their wealthy benefactors, then they get a say over the preaching roster. New imam moves in, at first as an equal to the original imam. Then comes the power play and, bingo, a brand new mega Wahhabi mosque in the heart of Cologne.

This has happened so many times in so many places. It is rarely so simple as building a proper new mosque.

My guess is that a slightly more low key structure, minus the mega minarets would probably serve just as well as a proper house of prayer. Its the way that these things usually go that has people worried.

PS, a case could be made that these structures are made so big so that they will attract immigration in higher numbers. In others words, another aspect is a takeover of European towns by numbers by the radicals with the infinitely deep pockets.
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:36 PM   #4
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Final thought.

There is a great power in numbers. There is no theological reason why mosques need to be huge or that thousands upon thousands of Muslims must worship in one awesome super mega-plex. But the sight of such overwhelming numbers can be both intimidating to some and overwhelmingly impressive to others. Its another effective tactic in the radicals arsenal.

But then I have to wonder why the moderates don't simply break off into smaller groups and build smaller more intimate mosques with their own funds rather than waiting for the Saudis to come and build them a better building? My great-grandparents were Ukrainian immigrants with nothing but the clothes on their backs when they came to America. They did without nice new clothes and even new homes (They lived in company housing at first) while they scraped their pennies together for their church buildings in order to see that they were built first.

If dirt poor Ukrainian peasants could do it on their own in an often hostile environment, why must Muslim immigrants take money from radicals to do the same?
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:57 PM   #5
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Cardinal Meisner is not "in the center of the German society". He is a very controverse and conservative person and pretty much in line with the Pope.

The Pro-Köln party makes me sick, but as long as they do nothing illegal we have to live with them.

Overall, there is support for the building of the mosque.
But the building of mosques is always part of some disputes. While churches get closed due to lack of churchgoers, and synagogues get built with much support (rightly so), it's still some mixed feelings about mosques getting built. I think this will change with more mosques over the next years.

The mosque gets financed by the city of Cologne, maybe some federal money, donations and membership fees of the ditip, the Turkey-Islamic Union.
This union is responsible for the mosque and not a radical organization.

Ten per cent of Cologne's population, or about 100,000 people, are muslim.

Cologne doesn't have many high buildings, so 55 meters might be above some roofs. But it's not too much of a monstrosity. Also, it's still up to debate whether the minarettes will be that high, or smaller.


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Old 07-06-2007, 09:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega
The mosque gets financed by the city of Cologne, maybe some federal money, donations and membership fees of the ditip, the Turkey-Islamic Union.
Is the public funding because DITIB is in the KRM now, or were they always eligible for public funding? I remember reading an article last spring about the formation of the KRM, which stated that one of the hopes the member organizations had in forming it was that they might become eligible for subsidization, like German churches are.
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Originally posted by whiteflag
these giant mosques, funded by "private" donations, are mostly funded by the Saudis or like minded groups with billions to throw around. In prior cases, the library that they mention in the story, has subsequently been stocked with Islamist or Wahhabi teaching materials. Further, after putting the community in the debt of their wealthy benefactors, then they get a say over the preaching roster. New imam moves in, at first as an equal to the original imam. Then comes the power play and, bingo, a brand new mega Wahhabi mosque in the heart of Cologne.
Do you have data to back up that "mostly" claim for Germany? There is one Muslim organization in Germany, the largely Arab Muslim ZMD, which has been suspected of having financial ties to the (Saudi) Muslim World League; I'm not personally aware of any others. DITIB's funding, other than membership fees, comes from the Turkish government's Presidency of Religious Affairs (which also supplies its imams)--hardly a Wahhabi organization.

I take it you don't like American megachurches either?
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Old 07-06-2007, 09:51 PM   #7
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It's the freaking Temple of Nod, I must destroy it.
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Old 07-06-2007, 10:46 PM   #8
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The mayor of Cologne has promised to partly fund the building of the mosque.

I tried to find some more information about the financing of the mosque, but with no luck.
I don't think that it is directly related to the founding of the KRM. Churches and Synagogues get funded as well, so I think there should be some money from the Government available.
Cologne itself provides some of the funding after all parties agreed to support the mosque.

I will try to find some more information on that.

Some more things: The buildings in the area are around 70 metres high, which is 20 metres above the minarettes. There's also the television tower which is 260 metres high.

The prayer rooms are built for 2,000 people. That's rather moderate a size. Ehrenfeld, the part where the mosque gets built, has about 10,000 muslims.

We have some muslim schools and organisations getting funded by, or collecting money for radical groups. However, most of these groups or schools have been closed.
And the procedure you described, with the funding from Saudis, is not that common. I don't say it doesn't exist, but the quantifier "mostly" is false.
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Old 07-06-2007, 10:59 PM   #9
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The mayor of Cologne has promised to partly fund the building of the mosque.
Now that is sickening, unless he is talking about his own personal money.
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Old 07-07-2007, 12:48 AM   #10
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The original article said private funding. There was no word of public funding at all. Not one word. That is very often a kind of euphemism for "Saudi funding"

I did not make the qualifier "mostly" for Germany. You read that in. I was meaning worldwide and there is documentation in the mainstream media. One was in Dublin. In which a new larger mosque was soon taken over by its benefactors and the moderate imam tossed out. It is happening more and more in Europe. There is trouble with a planned mega mosque in London. In Rome, there either is one already or else it is also in the planning stages. Whatsmore, this sort of scheme has been the modus operandi for years in the ME and in Asia. In my own home town, a Muslim friend told me that she doesnt like to go to the mosque anymore because the radical party is getting strong and aggressive and is taking over the mosque.

I dont say these things without some foundation that has already happened enough times to be noted by Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

And I think you also missed my qualifiers of "mega" as in "mostly" qualifying "mega" And the words "possibly" as a theory as to why some people would be worried. Good and tolerant people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike are worried about radicals because there has been enough documented cases for that to be a valid concern.

Or has it become a case where anything even slightly critical of even some Muslims is out of bounds?
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Old 07-07-2007, 01:22 AM   #11
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Yolland,

No I don't. But everyone there still does their own thing. There is no sea of bodies all doing the same thing in the same way. The unity of motion of thousands of Muslims at prayer has a different psychological effect and has been cited by many as an overwhelming and impressive religious experience of 'human unity" realized. I was describing this psychological effect, not just masses of people in one place getting their groove on to praise music. The mega mosque effect has an alternate and valid explanation other than the often gushing praise that is given to it by some. I don't find it impressive for this reason any more than I find it impressive when a faith healer gets a crowd all worked up for an hour and then smacks some unsuspecting person in the head with their "annointed hand". Of course the person has an impressive religious experience from that. In all these cases, mega mosque, mega church and faith healer, there is some manipulation of the senses going on albiet in different forms. Most people will not realize it unless it is pointed out to them.

I believe that most Muslims are unaware of this but I am sure that the radicals are quite aware of this effect. Hence their fondness for mega mosques.

From personal experience and personal opinion, I believe the Christian religion suffers in its mega form. This was a faith born in tiny house churches and is really at its best in small intimate settings. It is a religion that makes much of the body or family of believers being like a family in practice as well and this I feel is most certainly lost in a church one could get lost in! I prefer to know most, if not all, of my "family" members by name. Call me quirky.

Some mega churches work to compensate for this with what are called small groups but the fact remains that most people in one church do not know one another resulting in the family "home" resembling a hotel or conference center, where one's group is just one of many, more than its being like a single family residence.

By this I mean no offense to the members of mega-churches. If another person has no problem with these settings then that is their choice and I leave them to it. For me, a nice mid-sized church happens to be best. There is plenty of room for personal preferences to differ in this regard within the faith.
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Old 07-07-2007, 03:45 AM   #12
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Originally posted by whiteflag
Or has it become a case where anything even slightly critical of even some Muslims is out of bounds?
Seems to me it's the other way round here: has it become a case where any story involving the construction of a large mosque occasions the invoking of spectres like "a brand new mega Wahhabi mosque in the heart of Cologne"? (Which was why I assumed you were intentionally attributing the "mostly funded by..." scenario to Germany.) The organization building this mosque is well-known to the German government; they have 700 mosques there already, and there's no mystery as to where their international funding comes from, where their imams come from, or who their imams 'answer to'. In fact, those concerns don't appear to me to be the ones the opponents of this mosque are raising, anyhow--rather the more familiar theme of Muslims having no place in "our German, European culture" with their foreign ways of dress and worship, etc. The issue at hand isn't whether large, radicalized mosques with shady international financial backing exist in general; obviously they do (though whether they're "mostly" that, in general, is another question). It's rather the controversy surrounding this one particular proposed mosque to serve this one particular Muslim community.
Quote:
The original article said private funding. There was no word of public funding at all. Not one word.
Actually it said "mostly" financed by private donations, which necessarily implies some public ones, I suppose. Though I didn't notice that the first time through myself.
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No I don't. But everyone there still does their own thing. There is no sea of bodies all doing the same thing in the same way. The unity of motion of thousands of Muslims at prayer has a different psychological effect and has been cited by many as an overwhelming and impressive religious experience of 'human unity" realized. I was describing this psychological effect, not just masses of people in one place getting their groove on to praise music. The mega mosque effect has an alternate and valid explanation other than the often gushing praise that is given to it by some. I don't find it impressive for this reason any more than I find it impressive when a faith healer gets a crowd all worked up for an hour and then smacks some unsuspecting person in the head with their "annointed hand". Of course the person has an impressive religious experience from that. In all these cases, mega mosque, mega church and faith healer, there is some manipulation of the senses going on albiet in different forms. Most people will not realize it unless it is pointed out to them.
I can understand a personal distaste for mass-scale organized worship; I've attended tiny-through-to-smallish synagogues my whole life and strongly prefer that. I don't see this "unity of motion" effect as being unique to Islam though, nor is it what strikes me personally as being the most notable psychological effect of mass-scale services. I've never been to a contemporary-style megachurch, and am unsure quite what to picture when you describe 'everyone doing their own thing'; I have, though, observed worship services at the second-largest mosque in India, and also at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome (which to me were equally 'foreign' experiences). 'Unity of motion of thousands at prayer' was certainly something I noticed in both settings, but actually what struck me most about the 'psychological' experience was what it must feel like to have such a palpable reminder how large your religious community really is (not that either of those even begin to hint at the total, of course, but compared to your standard neighborhood mosque or church...). I have to imagine I'd find the same effect at a megachurch though, or a very large synagogue for that matter. So yes, it may foster a very specific kind of sense of community, but I doubt whether it makes attendees easier to "manipulate" than a smaller setting in any intrinsic way.
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Old 07-07-2007, 04:09 AM   #13
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Do Mosques have to be built in a certain style? Can a Mosque not be built to match the aesthetic of the area it is built in?

People might have less issue if it didn't seem so out of place?
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Old 07-07-2007, 07:31 AM   #14
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Wahhabbi mosque? Most Turks are not Wahhabi. They are laid-back, tolerant Muslims. In fact, several anti-Wahhabist books have been published in Istanbul.
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Old 07-07-2007, 08:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Now that is sickening, unless he is talking about his own personal money.
It was a decision by all the parties, not him himself. And it is backed by the public.

I know you think differently, but as an atheist we have to accept that other people are religious, and to religion their belongs a church, synagogue, mosque or whatever.

If this was a church or synagogue there would be funding from the city as well.
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