The first “liberal mosque” has been opened in Germany as part of a movement against conservative Islamic values including the wearing of full-face veils.
The Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque was set up by Seyran Ates, a lawyer and women’s rights activist. It will share space with the St Johannes protestant church in Berlin.
Women and men will be permitted to pray together and all members of the LGBTQ community will be welcomed without prejudice, Ms Ates told the Der Spiegel newspaper. Sunni and Shiite believers will also be encouraged to preach alongside each other.
“No one will be let in with a niqab or burqa veil,” she said. “This is for security reasons and also it is our belief that full-face veils have nothing to do with religion, but rather are a political statement.”
Ms Ates, who moved from Turkey to Germany as a child, has previously condemned the oppression of women in certain Muslim communities and called for liberal values to be upheld.
“A Muslim was reported to us who was frightened by the backwardness and hatred that prevails here in many prayer houses,” she said.
“Muslim students who are from more liberal environments deny their religion, so as not to be harassed by conservative Muslims. We have to address this and counter it.
“You can only achieve change through setting an example, opening doors, in a space where every question can be asked.”
Ms Ates said Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, once told her that liberal Muslims should band together, which helped inspire the idea.
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