A library photo of German Muslims performing their prayers.
By Ahmed Al-Matboli, IOL Correspondent
BERLIN, April 17, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – Building places of worship is no longer an easy job for Germany’s Muslim minority, already facing a vicious campaign spearheaded by the country’s Christian opposition.
The building of the Grand Mosque in Berlin has been suspended since January after a local court ruled that the mosque officials should give guarantees to the neighbors that construction works would not cause damages to properties, the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper reported on Saturday, April 16.
The mosque’s construction works, championed by the Islamic league for humanitarian works, began in December 2004.
The Berlin construction department has refused to give license to the Islamic Council of Ahl-ul-Bait in Germany (Irab) to expand a mosque in the capital but this time without giving any reasons.
Similarly, the municipality council in the Berlin district of Noe Kohlen rejected a request by the Islamic Insaan body to build a cultural center and a mosque, prompting the organization to take its case to court.
There are 2,200 mosques and prayer rooms in Germany, most of which are built by Turkish bodies. The oldest mosque in Germany was built in the capital Berlin in 1924.
Work is in full swing in Dusiburg to build Germany’s biggest mosque funded by the government, the European Union and Muslim bodies in the north-central European country.
The construction of the mosque, with a capacity to accommodate 3,000 worshipers, is expected to be completed by early 2007.
Under the German constitution, acknowledged Islamic bodies have the right to receive government assistance to establish Islamic centers.
The opposition Christian Democratic Union pressed for more restrictions on the Muslim minority.
The Berliner Morgenpost‘s report came only one day after the Christian opposition pressed for more restrictions on the Muslim minority.
During a parliamentary session on Friday, April 15, the Christian Democratic Union criticized the government for failure in tackling threats to national security posed by “Islamic extremists”.
The opposition party proposed, inter alia, banning their political activities and scraping their residency permits.
“It is unacceptable to allow foreigners to move between Islamic extremists’ training camps in and outside Germany,” it claimed on its Web site.
A study recently conducted by the University of Bielefeld’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence showed that Islamophobia was on the rise in Germany.
However, a German intelligence report revealed that only one percent of Germany’s Muslim minority are members of organizations that pose serious threats to the country’s national security.
Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.
There are some 3.4 million Muslims in the country, including 220,000 in Berlin. Turks make up an estimated two thirds of the minority.
Germany’s mass-circulation Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in July that Germans reverting to Islam have risen dramatically in the past few years and are keen on leaving their indelible marks on society.