Germans in a small East Berlin neighborhood are protesting plans to build a mosque there. They'd prefer their small garden plots to a minaret on the skyline.
Mosques are by no means a new development in Germany. As far back as the 16th century, Prussian king Frederick William I had the first mosque built in Potsdam for his Turkish soldiers.
In Berlin, the first mosque was constructed in 1924.
Now there are some 30 Muslim places of worship in the German capital. But most of them are in Neukölln and Kreuzberg, in the western part of the city. These are the neighborhoods in which the erstwhile guest workers of the 1960s and 1970s lived.
In the former Communist and, at the time, internationally insular East Berlin, there are no mosques. But the Muslim Ahmadiyya community would now like to build prayer rooms with a minaret in Heinersdorf, in the Pankow district.
The Ahmadiyya community claims to have some 200 members in Berlin. They present themselves as relatively liberal and clearly distinguish themselves from any form of fundamentalism.
"Love for all, hate for no one" a sign behind the imam's desk reads. Abdul Basit Tariq says he doesn't understand the opposition in Heinersdorf.
"These are unfounded fears," imam Tariq says. "People listen to the news, see scenes on television and that's why they're scared of Muslims. They think Muslims are terrorists and suicide bombers. Their heads are full of these things."
The Ahmadiyya community says it is coming in good faith and the mosque will be open to all visitors. According to imam Tariq, the group does not want to recruit new followers, as many residents fear.
None of the community even wants to live in the neighborhood. Most reside in western Berlin, in the Wedding district. But they can easily reach the Heinersdorf location, which is why the community chose it. It wants to stick to its plans in Heinsersdorf, despite the opposition.
Source: Deutsche Welle (English)