Fitness training for Muslim women in Cologne

Emine Aydemir is a devout Muslim woman, living in Cologne. She runs a fitness studio for Muslim women — no men are allowed. The women can train with or without a veil. There are no men around so their husbands generally have no objections to them going there. It’s a welcome change of pace from domestic life and many say it’s helped boost their confidence. But Aydemir says she doesn’t want to run a ghetto: courses are given in German and women can attend whether they are Muslims or not.

Terrorism: Politicians Warn of Increased Terror Threat in Germany

Politicians in Germany warned Saturday of the dangers posed by Islamists, following the arrest of two terrorist suspects and a police search for two others. The arrests took place in Cologne on Friday when a Somali and a German of Somali descent were escorted off a plane bound for the Dutch city Amsterdam. German prosecutors on Saturday were granted arrest warrants for the two men by a local court. Chief prosecutor Fred Apostel said evidence provided by police showed the pair “were planning to carry out an attack in the near future.” Security sources said the pair had been under observation for months and were planning to travel via the Netherlands to a training camp for militants on the Pakistan-Afghan border. A search of their apartment had turned up letters in which the two men, who are in their 20s, had declared their readiness to die in a jihad or holy war, the sources said. Police apparently stepped in to prevent them from joining their comrades in the Islamic Jihad Union, (IJU), often described as a successor to the terrorist network al Qaeda.

Full-text article continues here.(Some news sites may require registration)

The World from Berlin: ‘We Should take Pro Cologne Less Seriously’

Protesters and other citizens in Cologne worked en masse on Saturday to shut down their city and prevent a demonstration by Europe’s radical right. But have they given too much attention to the fringe group, Pro Cologne, which organized the rally? When radical-right activists from around Europe arrived in Cologne on Saturday for a rally, the city was ready. Thousands of protesters flooded the rally site, disrupted city transportation and even attacked a river boat where a press conference was supposed to be held.

Full-text article continues here.(Some news sites may require registration)

Germany’s Biggest Mosque Spurs Fear of `Islamization’ of Europe

The twin spires of Germany’s largest Gothic cathedral will soon be joined on the Cologne skyline by the minarets of the country’s biggest mosque. The $23 million Ehrenfeld Central Mosque, scheduled to be completed in about two years, will help bring Islam out of the back streets and reduce the influence of radicals, Mayor Fritz Schramma says. Others see the building as a symbol of Islamic extremism and further evidence that Cologne’s 120,000 Muslims, more than half of them Turkish immigrants, refuse to integrate. “I pray at the little chapel next to the Cologne Cathedral, and my prayer doesn’t become more valuable if I pray in the big cathedral,” said Laszlu Reischl, 56, a taxi driver. “I don’t understand why they insist on building a big mosque.” The controversy reflects Germany’s struggle over almost five decades to incorporate its largest ethnic minority. Tensions were revived in February when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turks at a Cologne rally that “assimilation is a crime against humanity.” Some lawmakers who oppose mostly Muslim Turkey’s bid to join the European Union accused him of preaching Turkish nationalism on German soil. Cologne has Germany’s highest concentration of Muslims, at 12 percent of the population. The new mosque will be built in the immigrant district of Ehrenfeld, about two miles from the 13th- century Cologne Cathedral. Seda Sezer reports.