BERLIN — Inside the red-brick building that now houses the German capital’s newest and perhaps most unusual mosque, Seyran Ates is staging a feminist revolution of the Muslim faith.
“Allahu akbar,” chanted a female voice, uttering the Arabic expression “God is great,” as a woman with two-toned hair issued the Muslim call to prayer. In another major break with tradition, men and women — typically segregated during worship — heeded the call by sitting side by side on the carpeted floor.
Ates, a self-proclaimed Muslim feminist and founder of the new mosque, then stepped onto the cream-colored carpet and delivered a stirring sermon. Two imams — a woman and a man — later took turns leading the Friday prayers in Arabic. The service ended with the congregation joining two visiting rabbis in singing a Hebrew song of friendship.
And just like that, the inaugural Friday prayers at Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque came to a close — offering a different vision of Islam on a continent that is locked in a bitter culture war over how and whether to welcome the faith. Toxic ills like radicalization, Ates and her supporters argue, have a potentially easy fix: the introduction of a more progressive, even feminist brand of the faith.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
(RNS) While Americans watched Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fighting to the finish in a noisy and polarized campaign, Germans were quietly debating their own presidential election in far different terms.
Among the names put forward as candidates are two leading Protestant bishops — one of them a woman — and even a respected Muslim writer.
That’s not the only way the presidential election in Berlin next February will be different from the American contest.
German presidents are figureheads without real power, nominated by the parties in Parliament and indirectly elected by its members along with representatives of the state assemblies. They spend a lot of time meeting visiting dignitaries, addressing conferences and cutting ribbons.
But one job qualification that stands out is the idea that a president should be a moral leader willing and able to speak about the state of the nation’s soul. Pundits like to call this the “preacher in chief” aspect of the job.
FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE
The famous Cologne cathedral planned to switch off its lights on Monday evening as a sign of protest against “anti-Islam” marchers assembling in the German city. Demonstrations staged by a populist movement dubbed “Pegida” — the German acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicization of the West — have shaken Germany for the past month, drawing big crowds in a handful of cities and condemnation from the country’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Critics say the movement is a vehicle for far-right hate and neo-fascism. The weekly marches are emulating pro-democracy protests that took place in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet Union. But they are animated by far different beliefs.
Pegida supporters claim to represent a considerable spectrum of German society, fearful about the consequences of an influx of refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom are Muslim. They say they are anti-extremist, but others point to the prevalence of hate groups among Pegida’s ranks and say the movement is nothing more than dressed-up, “pinstriped Nazis.”
In a New Year address, Merkel urged her compatriots to reject Pegidabecause “their hearts are cold and often full of prejudice.” The center-right leader’s comments have been largely backed by the rest of the country’s political and business elites, who dislike the xenophobic image of Germany conveyed by Pegida’s marches.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST