Germany: Muslims deny buying churches

Germany's main Muslim groups denied Monday they were shopping for some of the many empty Christian churches in the country to cope with demand for prayer space.

Hundreds of roomy churches in Germany are disused and sealed up, while thousands only attract a handful of people to Sunday services, but many Christians are hostile to selling them.
Bekir Alboga, spokesman for the coordination council representing four main Islamic bodies, said "the main Christian churches refuse on principle to sell any more churches to Muslims."

That meant there was no point in asking for them. He said only about half a dozen existing German mosques had previously been in use as churches.

Ayyub Axel Koehler, the German-born chairman of one mosque group, the Council of Muslims in Germany, agreed there was no trend to buy former churches.

"Personally speaking, I would always oppose that. I believe it could upset people's religious feelings and we wouldn't want to do that," said Koehler in Cologne.

In Bonn, the office of the Conference of German Catholic Bishops confirmed that Catholic churches were not available on principle for Islamic bodies to buy.

The office said a survey had shown 99 per cent of Catholic churches were still in use and would remain so for at least the next decade. "So there are practically none going spare," said spokeswoman Martina Hoehns.

The Islamic Archive of Germany, an Islamic think-tank, said there were 159 mosques of traditional design in Germany while another 184 were under construction or in planning.

More than 2,600 simpler prayer halls without minarets or domes, many of them converted halls or factories, are also in use.

Source: Expatica (English)

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