A liberal mosque that welcomes people of all genders, sexual identities and faiths opened its doors just last month in Moabit, Berlin—but its founder has already been receiving violent threats.
Turkish lawyer Seyran Ates opened the Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque inside a protestant church in Berlin as a way of realising her dream that: “liberal Muslims would come together to live an Islam that explicitly affirms democracy and the equal rights of a community of believers," she wrote in Die Zeit.
However, her vision of Sunnis, Shias, men, women and the gay community coming together to pray under the same roof has quickly found opponents.
“Since setting up the mosque I have received so many death threats through social media that the police decided they have to protect me around the clock,” Ms Ates told The Times.
“The hostile reactions proved how necessary the project was.”
Ms Ate’s has been bombarded with negative messages on her Facebook page with one comment calling her “the devil incarnate”.
Turkey's religious affairs agency Diyanet has also condemned the founders of the mosque.
The mosque’s practices "do not align with Islam’s fundamental resources, principles of worship, methodology or experience of more than 14 centuries, and are experiments aimed at nothing more than depraving and ruining religion," the body said in a statement.
“We are convinced that all fellow believers will keep their distance from such provocations.”
Ms Ates said: “They’re labelling us as terrorists. Instead of engaging in a sensible religious debate, we’re being pilloried politically. That’s woeful.”
Co-founder of the mosque, the imam Abdel-Hakim Ourghi—who teaches Islamic theology at the Freiburg University of Education—called for peaceful dialogue.
“What is going wrong with Muslims when a different view of Islam is forbidden? Islam is a plural religion. Liberal thinking is part of diversity.”
“It’s time for liberal Muslims to unite. No Muslim who voices criticism should live in fear for his life.”