25 June 2017

Liberal Berlin mosque to stay open despite fatwa from Egypt

The founder of a new liberal mosque in Berlin that allows men and women to pray side by side has vowed to press on with her project even though the institution has been issued with a fatwa from Egypt and attacked by religious authorities in Turkey within a week of its opening.

“The pushback I am getting makes me feel that I am doing the right thing,” said Seyran Ates, a Turkish-born lawyer and women’s rights campaigner, who does not wear a hijab. “God is loving and merciful – otherwise he wouldn’t have turned me into the person I am.”

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The Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque, named after a Muslim philosopher who defended Greek philosophy and a German writer fascinated by the poetry of the Middle East, opened its doors in Berlin’s Moabit district a week ago on Friday.

.... A week later, the white-walled prayer room was noticeably emptier, with the seven-strong congregation almost matched by the number of security staff who guarded the exits and entrances with blue plastic covers over their boots.

Ates, 54, said many of the previous week’s worshippers had decided to stay away because they feared incrimination against themselves or their families. Her own relatives in Turkey had asked her to drop the project because they worried about arrests.

The lawyer, who is currently training to become an imam, said she had received “300 emails per day encouraging me to carry on”, including from as far away as Australia and Algeria, but also “3,000 emails a day full of hate”, some of them including death threats. [The Guardian] Read more