More Debate About Cologne’s New Central Mosque

27.07.2011

A few months before completion of Cologne’s new central mosque early 2012, the public debate about the building continues, now focusing more on its architecture and location rather than political or social issues. In previous years, critics of the mosque, such as the right-wing group Pro Köln (Pro Cologne), had campaigned to stop the building’s construction, at times with xenophobic slogans; social commentator Ralph Giordano used it as an opportunity to comment on the failure to integrate the Turkish Islamic community. Paul Böhm, the mosque’s architect, counters, however, that “the mosque is itself an act of integration”. Its architecture has an “open”, “inviting”, and “light” characters, which communicates “a sense of openness and invitation”. These characteristics are in opposition to enduring criticisms about the mosque’s design, with complaints focusing about the height of its minarets and its alleged resemblance to nuclear reactors. In fact, the height of the mosques minarets, which were taller in the original plans, had been a problem in the past, as the threatened to overshadow Cologne’s famous Cathedral. Subsequently, their size had to be reduced to protect the Cathedral’s visual integrity.