Thursday, July 5, 2007
Controversy of the Cologne Mosque
The New York Times reports that the residents of ancient city of Cologne, which hosts the greatest cathedral in Germany, is split concerning the building of a new mosque on the site of a converted factory. As the article reports, there are already dozens of mosques in Cologne, which, by the way, hosts one of the largest Muslim populations (approx. 120,000 people mostly of Turkish descent) in Germany, but they are all in tucked-away factories and warehouses that do not attract much attention. This new mosque would be Germany's largest and would give Cologne's Muslims a more conspicuous place of worship they can take pride in, and, even being Germany's largest mosque, it would not compete with the famous cathedral in proximity, size, or grandeur. More conservative elements of the population, nevertheless, have petitioned for the suspension of the project, citing the "common historical background" of non-Turkish German residents against the relatively "new" Turkish immigrants. Note in the article that the mayor of Cologne, who ultimately supports the project, cites the purported inability of many Turkish immigrants to speak German as one of his qualms. It seems, therefore, that this building project has turned into an issue of what constitutes "Germanness."