Mosque Project Stirs Concerns About the Integration of Islam in Germany

August 22, 2007


Source: Chicago Tribune

COLOGNE, Germany -- Never mind that a local brothel claiming to be Europe's largest calls itself the Pasha and sports an ersatz arabesque theme.

Some residents of this ancient city on the banks of the Rhine see the brothel as a shining example of their tolerance. But what irks them is that some Muslims want to build a mosque, complete with a dome and minarets.

The residents complain that the minarets would clash with the towering spires of the city's celebrated 13th-Century cathedral. But as the debate heats up, it has revealed a cultural schism that goes much deeper than any disagreement over architectural aesthetics.

For Cologne's 120,000 Muslims, most of them of Turkish origin, the $20-million mosque is clearly intended to be more than a house of prayer. It is a symbol of the community's growing sense of pride and confidence, a marker of its determination to take what it sees as its rightful place in German society.