It has a 34-metre minaret and a dome-shaped ceiling handpainted with floral patterns and verses from the Qur’an. Its crowning glory is a golden chandelier engraved with 99 epithets for Allah, and there is seating for 2,000 worshippers. Germany’s biggest mosque opens tomorrow in the Ruhr valley city of Duisburg in what leaders of Germany’s 3 million Muslims have described as a watershed moment, bringing mosques out of the backyards and alleys and into the middle of urban life. The multimillion-euro Merkez mosque in the working-class district of Marxloh, which was financed by private and public money, will transform the lives of the city’s Muslims. Their previous meeting place was the rundown canteen of a former mining company. For some, its consecration is a sign that the country has finally integrated its Muslims, too long considered guest workers who would one day go home, while for others it shows that Islam is taking over the religious landscape. Kate Connolly reports.
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