Large mosque opens without commotion in western German
Lessons learned for Muslim community living in Duisburg.
Duisburg--A grand mosque with room for 1,200 was inaugurated Sunday in the German city of Duisburg, Marxloh with none of the recriminations that had soured construction plans for a mosque in nearby Cologne.
Christian leaders spoke at the ceremonial opening, which was accompanied by the City of Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a number of Turkish bands. Police said there were no protests.
In an inaugural speech, the premier of North Rhine Westphalia state, Juergen Ruettgers, affirmed the right of 3.3 million Muslims in Germany to build mosques as was appropriate.
"We need more mosques in this country, not in inner courtyards, but visible and recognizable ones," he said.
This highly contrasted with recent reactions in Cologne, where some civic leaders described the intended mosque as "too big". Riots had broken out after far right demonstrators made a vain attempt in holding an anti-Islam rally.
Civic officials said one possible explanation is that unlike Cologne, ethnic Turkish Muslims form a major bloc of population in Duisburg: an old coal and steel town.
This is particularly the case in the suburbs of Marxloh where Muslims make up about one-third of the 18,000 residents.
The designing team behind the 7.5 million euro (9.4 million dollar) complex forestalled German criticisms by the use of plate-glass windows to allow visibility of the mosque's interior.
Furthermore, there will be no muezzin calls to prayer through loudspeakers from the mosque's 34 metre minaret: a practice that some anti-mosque groups elsewhere have put at the centre of criticism.
The state government and the European Union contributed 3 million euros in subsidies for the complex. that includes a community centre, cafe and the mosque with several Ottoman-style domes.
Another 4 million euros was contributed by the Muslim community.