DOMES AND MINARETS? Not in My Backyard, Say an Increasing Number of Germans

The planned construction of over 180 mosques in Germany is mobilizing right-wing xenophobes but also an increasing number of leftist critics. They fear the Muslim places of worship will facilitate the establishment of a completely parallel society. The issue at hand wasn’t the construction of a missile base or a new nuclear power plant. Yet the media reported “turmoil” and an “enraged” audience in a school auditorium in Ehrenfeld, a district of the German city of Cologne. The mood was almost comparable to that of the protest gatherings once held against nuclear missiles or reactors. Instead the outrage was directed at a huge mosque planned for the area. Still, the words used by the project’s opponents called to mind the protests of earlier times. “The minarets even look like missiles,” railed one woman. A man said the mosque’s dome reminded him “of a nuclear plant.” Ill will over mosques like the one being built in Cologne is spreading rapidly throughout Germany, often to the surprise of local politicians. For a long time the establishment of Muslim prayer rooms provoked little protest, housed as they were mostly in residential buildings, shops and back courtyards. Recently, though, there has been an increasing number of acts of protest, some violent. Molotov cocktails were thrown through mosque windows in the Bavarian town of Lauingen; Christians set protest crosses inscribed with “Terra christiana est,” or this is Christian land, on the grounds of a mosque in Hanover; and construction trailers went up in flames in the Berlin district of Pankow. Jochen B_lsche reports.