Monday, June 25, 2007

Germany Rising: Protests of Mega Mosque In Cologne

More than 150 members of Pro Köln, a Right-wing group, march in protest against the building of the 170ft high mosque in Cologne

The construction of one of Europe's biggest mosques near to a globally famous Christian landmark has sparked a furious row in Germany.

Immigration and integration are hugely sensitive questions in Germany, which is home to a Turkish community of several million. But almost within the shadow of Cologne Cathedral, political correctness has now been replaced by bitter confrontation as the city's Muslims begin to build a 2,000-capacity mosque with twin minarets that will reach 170ft.

"Muslims have been here for 40 years, yet people are praying in back rooms," said Seyda Can, an Islamic theologian at the Turkish Islamic Union in Cologne. "There are 120,000 Muslims in Cologne, that's 12 per cent of the population. We should not hide."

Work will begin in the autumn on the £15 million mosque, which will include huge glass and stone cupolas and two six-storey minarets.

Ms Can, who speaks fluent German, is an eloquent advocate for the mosque, arguing that when completed in 2009 it will aid the integration of a population sometimes regarded as outsiders.

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