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GERMAN BRIEF: SOCIETY

Berlin Mosque raises rainbow flag

Love is halal

July 2023: On 22 July, hundreds of thousands marched through Berlin to celebrate Christopher Street Day (Gay Pride). However, a small event the day before was of similar significance. A Berlin mosque unveiled the rainbow flag in the presence of Berlin’s Mayor Kai Wegner. After a similar action last year, there was much international support but also death threats against members of the congregation of the Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque. The members of the Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque practise a liberal, humane Islam that, for example, allows men and women to pray together. The fact that homosexuals are explicitly welcome has led to hate attacks from conservative Muslim organisations. Berlin's mayor, from the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), supports the mosque and said "The rainbow capital Berlin is characterised by its diversity of lifestyles, origins and religious confessions. Queer Berliners of the Muslim faith therefore also belong to Berlin. "I am grateful to the Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque for courageously setting its mark for diversity, acceptance and equality again this year with the rainbow flag, despite the hostility. The Senate (Berlin government) and I personally stand behind this commitment. Together we are fighting hate, violence and discrimination." The action on Friday (21 July) was attended by Kai Wegner and district mayor Stefanie Remlinger. "The Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque is once again sending a strong and confident message by raising the rainbow flag," Remlinger said. It is directed at queer people of Muslim faith just as much as at all other Berliners: "Against discrimination and violence, for tolerance and diversity." The mosque with around 700 members was opened in 2017 by lawyer Seyran Ateş. It is under constant police protection. Two years ago, it launched the much-noticed acceptance campaign ‘Love is halal’ The mosque was named after the Andalusian physician and philosopher Ibn Ruschd (1126-1198) - who was known in the Middle Ages for his commentaries on the works of Aristotle - and after the German philosopher, writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) in appreciation of his engagement with Islam, eg in the West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan). Governing Mayor Kai Wegner addressed the mosque’s founder Seyran Ateş directly: "What you are doing here with your team deserves Berlin’s full support. I would like to express my respect and gratitude to you for that. You are doing Berlin good." Mayor Kai Wegner opened Berlin’s main Gay Pride 2023 with a warning against the increasing discrimination against members of the LGBT communities. "Berlin will always be a safe haven for people who are attacked in other countries. We protect queer people who are threatened in many countries," said the CDU politician. "We see developments in the world, in Ghana, in Uganda, in Poland, that are unbearable." ON OTHER PAGES: German Turks IN YOUR OPINION: Please comment

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