The mayor of the German city announced that the call of the muezzin could from now on sound every Friday, in favor of “religious freedom”.
Cologne mayor Henriette Reker speaks of a “sign of respect “. The 35 mosques in the German city can now call the faithful to prayer on Fridays, as part of a two-year pilot project. The muezzin can be heard on Friday between 12 and 3 p.m., on condition that it does not last more than five minutes and that the inhabitants of the district are informed beforehand. Each mosque will also have to designate a person responsible for collecting potential complaints about the disturbance caused.
“Cologne is the city of (religious) freedom and diversity. Those arriving at the main station are greeted by the cathedral and accompanied by the church bells ”, wrote the mayor on Twitter. “Many Cologne residents are Muslims”. Known for its cathedral, the Rhine city has 120,000 Muslims, or 12% of its population.
Islamic religious authorities hailed the decision. “The call for Friday’s muezzin makes religious pluralization visible in Germany. It’s good for a city like Cologne ”said Bülent Ucar, director of the Institute of Islamic Theology at Osnabrück University. The Germans, on the other hand, are mostly hostile to the measure: 61% of them are against the general authorization of the Islamic call to prayer, according to a survey carried out last year by the institute of social sciences. Insa-Consulere. Other neighboring towns, such as Düren or Munster, have allowed the call to prayer in the streets for several years.
Several politicians reacted against the announcement, criticizing the influence of Ditib, the Turkish religious affairs directorate. “On the one hand the call of the muezzin has nothing to do with the practice of religion and on the other hand this authorization represents a milestone victory for political Islam in Germany”, reacted Lale Akgün, of the Social Democratic Party. “The call of the muezzin is not an obligation for personal religious freedom”said Serap Güler, regional minister for integration in North Rhine-Westphalia, member of the conservative CDU party and of Turkish origin.