The cathedral city of Cologne, one of the most important centers of the Catholic faith in Germany, will allow the Muslim muezzin call throughout the city for the next two years.
All 35 Cologne mosques can now use the minaret to call for five minutes of prayer every Friday between 12 and 3 p.m. and announce over loudspeakers: “There is no other god but Allah!”. The call to prayer is now allowed from the minarets of Cologne’s Ditib Central Mosque and other mosques.
Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker (64, independent) celebrated the “model project” on Twitter as a “sign of respect”. After all, every traveler in the cathedral city is “greeted by the cathedral and accompanied by church bells”. As a “cosmopolitan city”, Cologne now also wants to protect the “legitimate religious interests” of Muslims.
Viel Diskussion wg des Modellprojekts #Muezzin-Ruf. Köln ist die Stadt der (religiösen) Freiheit & Vielfalt. Wer am Hbf ankommt, wird vom Dom begrüßt und von Kirchengeläut begleitet. Viele KölnerInnen sind Muslime. Den Muezzin-Ruf zu erlauben ist für mich ein Zeichen des Respekts— Henriette Reker (@HenrietteReker) October 9, 2021
Lord Mayor of Cologne
“Muslims, many of them born here, are an integral part of Cologne’s urban society. Anyone who doubts this is questioning Cologne’s identity and our peaceful coexistence. When we hear the muezzin calling alongside the church bells in our city, it shows that that diversity is valued and lived in Cologne.”
In practice, every mosque community that wants to participate in the project has to submit an application to the administration. The formal consent to practice the call to prayer for the midday Friday prayer at the respective mosque is then determined by a contract under public law. The contract concluded in this way contains individual requirements that must be met by the applicant mosque community. The call to prayer on Fridays can only be made between 12 noon and 3 p.m. (the noon Friday prayer varies depending on the calendar) and for a maximum of five minutes. The volume of the call is also set with a different maximum limit depending on the location of the mosque.
It should also be noted that the surrounding neighborhood must be informed by the mosque community in advance by means of a flyer about the call to prayer. In addition, a contact person for the neighborhood must be named for each municipality who can answer questions or receive complaints.
Decision not without criticism
Reker waddled critics as a precaution: “Anyone who doubts this questions Cologne’s identity and our peaceful coexistence”.
► Muezzin calls in Cologne – Islam experts are skeptical. You accuse Reker of disregarding the real problem. “It’s not about ‘religious freedom’ or ‘diversity’, as Mayor Reker claims,” says integration expert Ahmad Mansour (45). “The mosque operators want visibility. They celebrate the muezzin as a show of power over their neighborhoods. “
Even when planning the controversial Ditib Mosque in Cologne-Ehrenfeld, there were nationwide debates about the size and importance of the giant building (inaugurated in 2018) for the cathedral city. Suspicion: The magnificent building opened by Erdogan was serving his propaganda.
► Rejection of muezzin calls also comes from the CSU. Vice General Secretary Florian Hahn to BILD: “In Bavaria we don’t want such model tests. They are not part of our occidental tradition. Also, calls to prayer are not needed to practice Islamic religion. “
In addition, according to critics: The call to prayer (it is also allowed in other German cities) is not comparable to the ringing of bells. The muezzin proclaimed religious slogans (“Alahu Akbar” – God is greater), while the bells only warned people to prayer or go to church without a word.
The volume is also set with a different maximum limit depending on the location of the mosque. The surrounding neighborhood of the mosque community must be informed in advance. And every municipality must name a contact person for the neighborhood who can answer questions or receive complaints.
What is the muezzin calling?
The muezzin goes back to the early days of Islam (7th century): At that time, the prayer caller was tasked with calling the believers to the five compulsory prayers every day. The muezzin shouts, among other things, “Allahu akbar” (Allah is great) and “I testify that there is no god but Allah” – followed by the invitation to come to prayer.
The call to prayer is considered a high art, and some particularly talented callers are sometimes well known. In order to reach as many Muslims as possible, the call of the muezzin is often heard from the minaret of a mosque.