The Church Jesus Built, German version

What Happens After Death?, German version

Is The Bible True?, German version

Heaven or Hell?, German version

Bible Prophecy, German version

The battle for Cologne's skyline

August 17, 2009: With the number of Muslims in Germany higher than previously thought to be the case, it comes as no surprise that the four million Muslims here (about five percent of Germany's population) would want to be able to worship in mosques. The number of mosques has increased in recent years, and a project to build a main mosque in Cologne for the Muslim community has Germans asking the question: "How big should Muslim mosques be?" Among those who have asked the question is Edmund Stoiber, who as governor of Bavaria wanted cathedrals to be higher than mosques. His argument was that Christian Germans still make up a majority of the population and the country's main culture is influenced most by Christianity.

The planned mosque in Cologne has been the subject of intense debate for several years. The Cologne city board of directors approved the construction of the mosque in August 2008. Cologne's mayor Fritz Schramma, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), supports the project but many of his own party members have strong reservations. They see the proposed mosque as a show of force from the Muslim side. Cologne mosque The plans for the Cologne mosque show a prayer room large enough to accommodate 1200 worshippers, and the slim minarets will be 55 meters (180 feet) high. The dome over the prayer room will be 35 meters (115 feet) high. The height of the minarets was a subject of discussion, since some wondered whether they would "compete" with the Cologne Cathedral some 4.5 kilometers distant. However, the cathedral is 157 meters (515 feet) high and will continue to dominate the Cologne skyline.

Public reaction to the planned mosque has been mixed. The dome will include see-through glass, making it possible to see into the mosque. The German weekly "Die Zeit" interpreted this as a symbol of Islam's openness towards the world. Islam critic Necla Kelek, who is from an orthodox Muslim family in Turkey, interprets the architecture differently. According to her, "the globe is a symbol of conquest, and people can see the dome and the minarets as a Muslim demand to get world domination."

For some the building's size is evidence that Muslims really don't want to be integrated into German society. Necla Kelek sees the mosque as sowing "the seeds for a parallel society. We have already seen that particularly large mosques develop into their own cities – their own Medinas." Well known atheist Ralph Giordano agrees. In comments made to German TV station WDR, Giordano said: "The building permit is an anti-integration decision. Just the mosque's size shows that Muslims are demanding power."

Cologne mayor Fritz Schramma's change on the question of the language of prayer will be interpreted as a setback for integration. Schramma originally demanded that all prayers in the new mosque should be in German, as is already the case in several other mosques in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany's federal state with the largest population. Now Schramma says that German will not be required because not all imams speak German.

Although the Catholic and Lutheran churches officially support the building of mosques in Germany, the Cologne mosque has raised questions about reciprocal tolerance. Cologne's cardinal Joachim Meisner wants Muslims in Germany to start fighting for Christian rights in Muslim countries in return for the mosques they are allowed to build in Germany. Augsburg's bishop Walter Mixa warned the authorities against allowing such large buildings as the mosque in Cologne. "In countries which are mainly pervaded by Muslim culture, Christians really have no rights. Therefore we should not allow mosques with pompous minarets in Germany. In a Christian society it's enough if the Muslims have a place where they can hold prayers," bishop Mixa said.


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Making Life Work, German version

What is Your Destiny?, German version

Gospel of the Kingdom, German version

The Ten Commandments, German version