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Cologne Central Mosque

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Cologne Central Mosque
DITIB-Zentralmoschee Köln - April 2015-7489.jpg
Cologne Mosque in April 2015
Basic information
Location Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Geographic coordinates 50°56′44″N 6°55′42″E / 50.94556°N 6.92833°E / 50.94556; 6.92833
Affiliation Sunni Islam
Country Germany
Architectural description
Architect(s) Paul Böhm
Architectural type Mosque
Architectural style Modern
Completed 2017
Construction cost 17-20 million

The Cologne Central Mosque (German: DITIB-Zentralmoschee Köln, Turkish: Merkez-Camii) is a building commissioned by German Muslims of the Organization DITIB for a large, representative Zentralmoschee (central mosque)[1] in Cologne, Germany. After some controversy, the project won the approval of Cologne's city council.[2]

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.[3]


The 48,000-square-foot (4,500 m2) mosque will cost £15–20 million to build,[4] aiming to house 2,000 to 4,000 worshippers.[5][6] The proposed mosque will be funded by Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği (DITIB), a branch of the Turkish government's religious affairs authority,[7] bank loans, and donations from 884 Muslim associations.[6] Cologne's St. Theodore Catholic Church has also decided to fundraise for the mosque.[8] The architect of the mosque is Paul Böhm,[9] who specializes in building churches.[10]

The planned mosque will be in the Ottoman architecture style. It will have a concrete and glass dome, and two 55 meter high minarets.[7] 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.[5] 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.[1]

It will also have glass walls, which according to DITIB spokesman Alboga will give visitors a feeling of openness.[11] According to the architect, openness is further enhanced by an inviting staircase from the street.[10] 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.[10]

Aerial view taken with a drone

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.[3]


The project has been opposed by author Ralph Giordano,[4] right-wing groups, and neo-Nazis.[4] 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."[4]

Markus Wiener of local activist group Pro Cologne,[12] expressed his fear that the Cologne mosque will empower the Muslim population too much.[13]

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.[5][14] Then district deputy mayor Uckermann seconded that he thinks many residents reject the mosque because they believe that Cologne is a “Christian city”.[15] 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”,[13] 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.”[14] Giordano's remarks have turned the local dispute into a national debate about the place of Islam in Germany.[14] 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.”[4] 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.[16]

The state of construction of the Cologne Mosque in April 2011

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."[5] 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.”[14] 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.”[11] He also stated that Turkey should allow its Christian minorities equivalent rights. He said the mosque would change the skyline of Cologne.[7] 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[7] and the penalty of death.

Public opinion seems “guardedly supportive, with a majority of residents saying they favor it”.[11] 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.[14][17]

A protest planned by Pro Cologne for September 20, 2008 was canceled by police at the last minute in the interest of public safety, after clashes between police and protestors.[18][19]

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.[2]

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.[13][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Böhm, Plul. "ZENTRALMOSCHEE KÖLN" (in German). Retrieved 2007-09-16.  (English translation)
  2. ^ a b Jenkner, Carolyn. "Go-Ahead for Germany's Biggest Mosque," Spiegel Online. August 29, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Plans to lower height of Cologne mosque dropped". Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Harry de Quetteville. "Huge mosque stirs protests in Cologne". Telegraph, June 26, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d Grieshaber, Kirsten.Tempers flare in German mosque dispute. Associated Press, July 4, 2007.
  6. ^ a b Burke, Jason (July 15, 2007). "Mosque stirs racial passion in Germany". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d Turks’ plans to build mosque in Germany divides religions. Today's Zaman. Retrieved July 8, 2007
  8. ^ "Catholic church collects money for mosque". Expatica. March 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  9. ^ "Mosque project stirs concerns about the integration of Islam in Germany". Detroit Free Press. August 22, 2007. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  10. ^ a b c "Muslims Should Not Try to Hide". Qantara. October 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  11. ^ a b c Effort to build a large mosque rattles some in Cologne. International Herald Tribune
  12. ^ Killguss, Hans-Peter; Peters, Jürgen; Häusler, Alexander (2008). "PRO KÖLN – Entstehung und Aktivitäten" (PDF). In Häusler, Alexander. Rechtspopulismus als "Bürgerbewegung": Kampagnen gegen Islam und Moscheebau und kommunale Gegenstrategien. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. pp. 55–71, S. 55. ISBN 978-3-531-91119-9. .
    Häusler, Alexander (2008). "Politische Programmatik von PRO NRW" (PDF). In Häusler, Alexander. Rechtspopulismus als "Bürgerbewegung": Kampagnen gegen Islam und Moscheebau und kommunale Gegenstrategien. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. pp. 88–93, S. 90 [90]. ISBN 978-3-531-91119-9. 
  13. ^ a b c Harris, Emily (October 11, 2007). "Two Mosques, Two Different Reactions in Germany". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Germans Split Over a Mosque and the Role of Islam. New York Times
  15. ^ Mosque project stirs concerns about the integration of Islam in Germany. Chicago Tribune. August 22, 2007.
  16. ^ Schmalenberg, Detlef (20 May 2008). "Jörg Uckermann: Eine zweifelhafte Karriere" [Jörg Uckermann: a dubious career]. (in German). Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  17. ^ Omniquest: Neubau einer Zentralmoschee in Ehrenfeld (PDF), published Kölner Stadtanzeiger, Juni 19, 2007
  18. ^ "Street clashes erupt in Germany". BBC. 20 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  19. ^ "German citizens protest against anti-Islam congress in Cologne". Sep 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  20. ^ "Constructing conflict". The Economist. August 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 

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