Lutheran leader questions mosque building

15th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Germany's top Lutheran leader, Wolfgang Huber, questioned Monday why Muslims in the country were mounting "a large- scale mosque-building campaign." "It's a fair question as to how far this meets legitimate religious needs or whether ambitions over and beyond that are involved," said Huber, who is the Lutheran bishop of Berlin. Speaking at the launch of a book compilation of his newspaper articles, he said more mosques were under construction than all of those currently in e

15 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Germany's top Lutheran leader, Wolfgang Huber, questioned Monday why Muslims in the country were mounting "a large- scale mosque-building campaign."

"It's a fair question as to how far this meets legitimate religious needs or whether ambitions over and beyond that are involved," said Huber, who is the Lutheran bishop of Berlin.

Speaking at the launch of a book compilation of his newspaper articles, he said more mosques were under construction than all of those currently in existence in Germany.

Huber is chairman of the German Evangelical Church, a federation of Protestant churches.

A Muslim think tank, the Islamic Archive, has said 184 mosques are being planned or under construction in Germany, on top of 159 that currently serve the population of about 3 million. That compares to just 3 in 1990. There are also 2,600 prayer halls, most with mosque-style interiors but no minarets or domes.

"We have recorded 184 projects to build new mosques, of which some are already under construction," Salim Abdullah, of the German Institute of Islamic Archives, told AFP.

"We are talking here about buildings with a dome and a minaret, which are clearly recognisable from the outside, and not the 2,600 prayer areas housed in various buildings throughout the country."

The growth in the construction of mosques over the past two decades has made Germany one of the "best-equipped" countries in Europe for Islamic worship, Abdullah said.

Plans to build one of the biggest mosques in Europe in the western German city of Cologne have been opposed by Christian leaders and far-right politicians.

The mosque is being planned by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), Germany's biggest Muslim group.

A Catholic lay leader defended mosque building, saying in an interview published Monday by the newspaper Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung that Muslims had the right to "dignified houses of worship."

Hans Joachim Meyer, chairman of the national committee of German Catholics, cautioned that mosques must fit into a city's architectural style.

Meyer said western values must be defended "without concessions" to Islam but Germans had to respect Muslim traditions such as women wearing headscarves.

"Not so long ago, Catholic women never used to attend church in trousers or with their heads uncovered," Meyer said. Meyer's committee is a federation of German Catholic lay organizations.

AFP/DPA

Subject: German news

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