Mosques hold open day for non-Muslims in Germany

Germany: Mosques around Germany opened their doors to non-Muslims to dispel common myths and stereotypes about Islam.

Nearly 900 mosques across Germany took part in “Open Mosque Day”, an annual event organized by Islamic associations in the country since 1997.

Dr. Zekeriya Altug from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), one of Germany’s largest Muslim groups, said Germans are showing strong interest in the event.

“By opening our doors to the public, we want to show that we are transparent, we are open to dialogue, and we are also part of this society,” he told the media during a tour of Cologne’s Central Mosque.

Altug underlined that lack of information on the true meaning of Islam has been one of the main factors in rising Islamophobia in the country.

“When people know less about something, then they have more concerns and fears about it. And such fears could be exploited by others with bad intentions. Having more transparency, enhancing dialogue and communication is an antidote to this,” he said.

An estimated 100,000 visitors participated in the events across the country, which took place on a public holiday, the Day of German Unity.

Islam and Germany

Germany is home to nearly 4.7 million Muslims, including 3 million of Turkish origin. Many of them are second- or third-generation Turkish families who migrated to the country in the 1960s, and they are well integrated.

The EU’s largest economy witnessed growing Islamophobia and hatred toward migrants in recent years triggered by propaganda from far-right and populist parties which have exploited fears over the refugee crisis and terrorism.

The far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, became the third-largest party in parliament after winning 12.6 percent of the vote in federal elections late last month.

In its campaign, the AfD attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for refugees, arguing that the country faces the threat of “Islamization” especially after nearly one million refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq, arrived since 2015.

A recent opinion poll by German daily Bild showed that almost two-thirds of Germans think that “Islam does not belong to their country.”

Only 23.9 percent said it did belong.

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