In Germany, Xenophobia Diverted By Open Doors

March 23, 2010

Author: Nicholas Kulish

Source: The New York Times

Everything seemed to be in place for a protracted xenophobic row and attendant media frenzy in this depressed industrial town near the French border.

A Muslim congregation applied in November to build a minaret and three golden cupolas on the roof of the old movie theater it had converted into a mosque. The far-right party here in the state of Saarland, emboldened by last year’s ban on minarets in Switzerland, seized on the issue, calling the proposed 28-foot minaret “the bayonet of Islam.”

But after a quick turn in the media spotlight, the pending furor fizzled out. A neighborhood group recently issued a statement with mosque leaders calling for “peaceful and constructive” cooperation, while the mosque’s leadership agreed to temporarily shelve the plan for the minaret.