Three Projects in Cologne, Munich and Berlin: The construction of three mosques acts as a magnet for fears in Germany

Opponents to the building of Cologne’s great mosque are not ready to give up. On Thursday, August 9th, they invited themselves to a meeting of the city council aimed at discussing the project that makes so much ado in the capital of the Rhine region, that one of Germany’s largest Turkish communities call home. Let’s show the city’s authorities what we think of their prestigious multicultural project! Let’s put an end to this madness! claims Pro-K_ln (_For Cologne’), an extreme-right party that counts five municipal councilors. The party received the support of Austria’s extreme-right party FP_ for its campaign. Cologne is not alone: in Berlin and Munich as well, projects for the construction of mosques are a magnet for fears, and even hatred, of a large part of local citizens.

Germans Split Over a Mosque and the Role of Islam

(Mosque construction has proved a contentious issue for German society. For more information on mosques in Germany, see the Germany country profile). In a city with the greatest Gothic cathedral in Germany and no fewer than a dozen Romanesque churches, adding a pair of slender fluted minarets would scarcely alter the skyline. Yet plans for a new mosque are rattling this ancient city to its foundations. Cologne’s Muslim population, largely Turkish, is pushing for approval to build what would be one of Germany’s largest mosques, in a working-class district across town from the cathedral’s mighty spires. Predictably, an extreme-right local political party has waged a noisy, xenophobic protest campaign, drumming up support from its far-right allies in Austria and Belgium…

Denmark: Feminist, socialist, devout Muslim: woman who has thrown Denmark into turmoil

Asmaa Abdol-Hamid is preparing herself for a new battle. If the campaign she recently announced is successful, she will be the first Muslim woman ever to enter the Folketing, the Danish parliament in Copenhagen. She is a 25-year-old social worker, student and town councilor and describes herself as a feminist, a democrat, and a socialist. She has gay friends, opposes the death penalty, supports abortion rights, and could not care less what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. In other words, she is a tolerant Scandinavian and European. She also identifies as a Palestinian and a devout Muslim and insists on wearing a headscarf. She refuses, on religious grounds, to shake hands with males. Members of the extreme right resent her as a rabble rouser; the left is skeptical of her place in their “red-green” alliance of socialists and environmentalists. Her announcement has through her into the middle of a debate tormenting Denmark and the rest of western Europe – the place of Islam in Europe and the treatment of large Muslim minorities. Asmaa claims she is in politics because it is a personal interest of hers, not because she is a Muslim. Critics greatest concern is the issue of the headscarf and how it will be accommodated in parliament. Her candidacy is for a safe Copenhagen seat for the leftwing Unity List. Among the responses elicited by her candidacy is that by The Danish People’s Party or DFP, the far-right movement that unofficially props up the weak centre-right government of the prime minister. DFP politicians have compared the headscarf to the Nazi swastika and accuse Asmaa of being brainwashed. “We don’t like the idea of her performing as an Islamist in the parliament,” says DFP spokesman Kim Eskildsen. “We find it wrong that she’ll use the parliament as a tool for Islamism … We don’t consider this woman a Nazi. But the way the headscarf is used is comparable to other totalitarian symbols.” Denmark’s current centre-right government, has enacted the tightest anti-immigration legislation in Europe in recent years. Ms. Abdol-Hamid, who shares a one-room council flat with one of her six sisters in the “ghetto” of Vollsmose, in the town of Odense, says her political mission is to fight for the underclass that has been affected by recent policies. Ms. Abdol-Hamid also faced criticism from conservative Muslims who approach her father and instruct him to get her married. They go to my father and tell him, get her married, get her married,” she laughs. “Others think you can’t be Muslim and Danish at the same time. Some of the Muslims and the extreme right are just the same. “And there are women in my party who say that anyone who wears the headscarf is oppressed. It’s like they think I’m dumb. They’re taking away my individuality. We need the right to choose. It’s up to us whether or not we wear headscarves. “They think I’m a woman from the Middle East. No. I’m a Danish Muslim.”