Merkel, a Lutheran pastor's daughter who grew up in communist East Germany, told a congress of her conservative Christian Democrats that "we must take care that mosque cupolas are not built demonstratively higher than church steeples".
Mosque-building is a sensitive subject in Germany. Merkel's fellow conservatives in Bavaria have been saying for months that minarets should not dwarf steeples. Local residents are up in arms about plans to build mosques in Berlin, Munich and Cologne.
Bekir Alboga, spokesman for the Coordination Council of Muslims, an umbrella organisation for Muslims in Germany, said he was worried that mosques could become a campaign issue in state elections coming up in some parts of Germany.
"We must be on guard against sparking artificial discussions for political purposes which have little connection with reality," Alboga said in a statement.
"Comments like Chancellor Merkel's (about Mosques) ... take a back seat to the expert opinions of building authorities, who base their decisions on local conditions and consensus between the citizens and mosque communities," he said.
Merkel has organised several conferences to try to improve relations between Germany's largely Christian population and its roughly 3.2 million Muslims. One of the subjects under discussion is mosque building.
Christians in Cologne do not want the city's skyline -- now dominated by one of the world's largest cathedrals -- to be altered by two tall minarets.
Alboga said Muslims and Christians have more important issues to deal with than arguing about the height of minarets and steeples.
"Parts of the world are on fire," he said. "Instead of putting those out we're fighting over secondary issues."
Source: Javno (English)