Seyran Ates, above, a well-known Turkish women’s rights activist and lawyer, today unveiled a ‘liberal’ mosque in the Moabit area of Berlin.
According to this report, the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque will allow all Muslims to pray together – women and men, Sunni and Shi’ite, straight and gay – but burqas and niqabs will not be welcome. Ates said that this was:
For security reasons and because it is our conviction that full veil has nothing to do with religion but is a political statement.
Ates, who has fought for eight years to establish the mosque for progressive Muslims in Germany, said:
I couldn’t be more euphoric, it’s a dream come true.
This project was long overdue. There’s so much Islamist terror and so much evilness happening in the name of my religion … it’s important that we, the modern and liberal Muslims, also show our faces in public.
The mosque, located in St Johannis Protestant church, combines the names of medieval Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd and German writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe. It is located on a busy shopping street in the immigrant neighborhood of Moabit, which is dotted with Indian and Vietnamese restaurants and Middle Eastern cafes.
Ates said the new mosque will be a place of liberalism where everyone is welcome and equal. Women don’t have to wear headscarves, can preach as imams and call the faithful to prayer just like men. What’s more:
There won’t be any hate preaching against democracy here.
Instead, followers can express doubt about their beliefs and approach their religion with sense and reason instead of blind devotion, she said.
Ates, who was shot and almost died while working as a counselor for Turkish women in 1984 and was attacked by an enraged husband, waved aside any potential worries about threats or criticism from more conservative Muslims.
I’ve received a few messages via social media, mostly full of expletives. But 95 percent of the feedback has been beautiful and positive.
Turks, Kurds and Arabs alike have donated money, businesspeople have called to offer help with creating signage and advertisements and several Middle Eastern restaurants will deliver free food for the iftar, the breaking of the Ramadan fast on Friday night, she said.
Ates’ sister brought 30 green prayer rugs from Istanbul a few weeks ago, and an Indonesian interior architect has offered her services to refurbish the 90-square-meter (970-square-foot) room.
I will start studying Islamic theology and Arabic in Berlin this fall. I want to become an imam myself.