Cologne Central Mosque
|Cologne Central Mosque|
Cologne Mosque in August 2012
|Construction cost||Euro 17-20 million|
The Cologne Central Mosque (German: DITIB-Zentralmoschee Köln, Turkish: Merkez-Camii) is a building currently under construction and commissioned by German Muslims of the Organization DITIB for a large, representative Zentralmoschee (central mosque) in Cologne, Germany. After some controversy, the project won the approval of Cologne's city council.
The mosque is designed in Ottoman architectural style, with glass walls, two minarets and a dome. The mosque is proposed to have a bazaar as well as other secular areas intended for interfaith interactions. As the mosque will be one of Europe's biggest, it has been criticized for its size, particularly the height of the minarets.
The 48,000-square-foot (4,500 m2) mosque will cost £15–20 million to build, aiming to house 2,000 to 4,000 worshippers. The proposed mosque will be funded by Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği (DITIB), a branch of the Turkish government's religious affairs authority, bank loans, and donations from 884 Muslim associations. Cologne's St. Theodore Catholic Church has also decided to fundraise for the mosque. The architect of the mosque is Paul Böhm, who specializes in building churches.
The planned mosque will be in the Ottoman architecture style. It will have a concrete and glass dome, and two 55 meter high minarets. The mosque will have the bazaar and entrance on the ground floor, lecture halls in the basement, the prayer area on the upper floor and include a Muslim library. A well is intended to be placed in the center to connect the two levels and to create a pleasant atmosphere. The mosque consists of flat-like wall screens which form a dome in the center.
It will also have glass walls, which according to DITIB spokesman Alboga will give visitors a feeling of openness. According to the architect, openness is further enhanced by an inviting staircase from the street. The developers have required that the secular areas of the mosque (e.g. the restaurant, event halls and stores) be open to people of all religions.
A plan welcomed by then mayor of Cologne Fritz Schramma to build shorter minerets was dropped after the architects said the plan would leave the minarets out of proportion with the rest of the building and surrounding structures. Construction of the opposed higher minerets will continue.
The project has been opposed by author Ralph Giordano, right-wing groups, and neo-Nazis. Jörg Uckermann, then local district's deputy mayor, has criticized the project saying that "We don't want to build a Turkish ghetto in Ehrenfeld. I know about Londonistan and I don't want that here."
On June 16, 2007, 200 people gathered in a protest organized by Pro Cologne against the mosque including representatives from the Austrian Freedom Party and the Belgian Vlaams Belang. Then district deputy mayor Uckermann seconded that he thinks many residents reject the mosque because they believe that Cologne is a “Christian city”. The prominent author Ralph Giordano stated that he opposed the project as the mosque would be “an expression of the creeping Islamization of our land”, a “declaration of war”, and that he wouldn't want to see women wearing headscarfs on German streets, likening their appearance to “human penguins”. Henryk M. Broder, a journalist, disagrees with Giordano's metaphor but said that “A mosque is more than a church or a synagogue. It is a political statement.” Giordano's remarks have turned the local dispute into a national debate about the place of Islam in Germany. and other prominent Germans criticized the project as well. District mayor Uckermann stated that Giordano's comments “broke down the wall. Before if you criticised this monstrous mosque you were a Nazi. But we have a problem with the integration of Muslims. It's a question of language and culture.” Uckermann left the conservative CDU for right-wing Pro Cologne in 2008 after being voted out of office as the district's deputy mayor and reportedly facing party exclusion.
The city's official for integration Marlis Bredehorst stated that "it is important that the Muslims here get dignified houses of prayer" and added that "two hundred years ago, the Protestants had to pray secretively in Catholic Cologne [...] that is something we can't imagine anymore today." The city's mayor, Fritz Schramma, who supports the project said that “For me, it is self-evident that the Muslims need to have a prestigious place of worship, but it bothers me when people have lived here for 35 years and they don’t speak a single word of German.” Christian leaders have taken similarly ambivalent stances: the Catholic Church has long supported the project, though recently Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, has been more cautious: when asked if he was afraid of the mosque, he said, “I don't want to say I'm afraid, but I have an uneasy feeling.” He also stated that Turkey should allow its Christian minorities equivalent rights. He said the mosque would change the skyline of Cologne. Wolfgang Huber, Germany's top Protestant bishop, criticized the “male domination” he saw in Islam and said Muslims should be able to convert to Christianity without fearing reprisals and the penalty of death.
Public opinion seems “guardedly supportive, with a majority of residents saying they favor it”. A poll taken by a local newspaper among 500 Cologne residents showed that the project is supported by 63%, of whom 27% want its size to be reduced.
On August 28, 2008, the Cologne City Council voted to approve the construction of the mosque. this position was taken by all parties except the Christian democrats (CDU). Outside the hall, a group of 30 protesters demonstrated against the approval, while 100 demonstrated in favor of it.
The Cologne mosque project has been contrasted with a less controversial project in Duisburg, Germany: in Duisburg, there was co-operation and good communication from an early stage between German politicians, church and community leaders and the developers of the mosque,.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to DITIB-Zentralmoschee Köln.|
Çalışkan, Burcu: Die Akte des medialen Islam – Moscheenboom in Deutschland. Ein Aufstieg des Homo Islamicus? Oder: Die Einbürgerung des Islams. Eine diskursanalytische und kommunikationswissenschaftliche Untersuchung des Moscheenstreits in Köln-Ehrenfeld. 2010.