GERMANY: The opening of a new mosque this month in Berlin further strained already-tense relations between Germany and Turkey, and has caused outrage in various corners of the Muslim world — even prompting religious authorities in Egypt to issue a decree condemning the mosque as “un-Islamic.”
CBS But despite recieving hundreds of death threats, the mosque’s founder, Seyran Ateş, says she’ll continue to fight for her cause. Ates said the new mosque will be a place of liberalism where everyone is welcome and equal. Women don’t have to wear headscarves, (face-covering niqabs and burqas are not allowed), and can preach as imams and call the faithful to prayer just like men.
That cause, and the principle behind the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe mosque, is that Muslims from all of the religion’s many sects are welcome to worship. Named after medieval Islamic scholar Ibn Rushd and German writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the mosque holds prayers every Friday in space rented inside a Lutheran church.
Ateş wanted to create a place where , Alawite and Sufi Muslims, men and women — and members of the LGBTQ community — could pray side by side. The 54-year-old lawyer and women’s rights activist of Turkish origin has a long history of challenging conservative interpretations of her religion, which she believes are no longer compatible with modern-day life.
The progressive house of prayer offers a platform for female imams like Ani Zonneveld, from the U.S., who gave the call to prayer for the mosque’s inauguration. House rules state that female visitors not wear full-body garments like the burka or niqab, as it “would only send a political statement.”
While liberal Muslims who feel restricted by mainstream Islam cherish Ateş’ project, conservative worshippers have expressed outrage, calling it “disgusting and sinful,” as it “disrespects the key elements of Islamic faith.” Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah, a state-run religious authority, issued a “fatwa” or official decree labelling the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe mosque an “attack on Islam.”
“I receive hundreds of death threats every day. I rely on personal protection, but I will continue to stand up for my organisation. Islam needs a change, and together with our supporters across the world we can make a difference,” Ateş told CBS News.