A Test of Tolerance: Doors Open at Eastern Germany’s First Mosque

After two years of construction and recurrent protest from locals, Eastern Germany’s first mosque celebrated its official opening in Berlin. Crowds of some 150 people turned up to protest — fewer than expected. Eastern Germany finally got its first Muslim house of worship, almost two decades after reunification, on Thursday with the official opening of the Khadija Mosque in Berlin’s Heinersdorf district. With 500 hundred police on hand, security forces easily outnumbered the relatively small group of protesters. Although four separate demonstrations had been planned — two against the construction of the mosque and two against anti-Muslim hatred — in the end only 150 people showed up for a single protest organized by the Heinersdorf Community of Interested Citizens, a group that has long opposed the mosque’s construction. “The polticians screwed us over,” one protester declared to SPIEGEL ONLINE, complaining that the project had been pushed through despite local opposition. Another protester — a retired man sporting a fedora hat and horn-rimmed glasses — asserted that the Ahmadiyya were only building the mosque “to bother us.” Many of those present held signs, including one reading: “Welcome to the Middle Ages.” Ferda Ataman and Katharina Peters report.

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