Cornerstone Laid For Controversial Cologne Mosque

Cornerstone laid for controversial Cologne mosque

Published: 7 Nov 09 13:56 CET

The symbolic first stone was laid for one of Europes largest mosques at ceremony in Cologne on Saturday after years of controversy dividing the citys residents.

The futuristic mosque, which is being built under the auspices of the Ditib Turkish association, will have a large dome and two 55-metre minarets. Critics of the project say they will spoil Colognes skyline by taking attention away from the citys famous Gothic cathedral.

Were not just laying a cornerstone for a mosque and community centre, said Ditb spokeswoman Ayse Aydin according to public broadcaster WDR, Were also laying here a cornerstone for our common future.

The debate over the mosques construction has come to symbolise the conflict between Europes growing Muslim population and those who believe Muslim immigration to the continent should be curtailed. Plans for the mosque have drawn protesters from around Germany and Europe, including right-wing extremists. One such planned rally was canceled by police for fears of violent protests.

To avoid inflaming public sentiment against the project, Ditib agreed to not broadcast the call to prayer to the neighbourhood from the minarets and to keep the buildings height the same as nearby structures.

When completed in two years, the mosque will hold between 2,000 to 4,000 worshipers and replace a series of ad-hoc places of worship that have developed around the city as Colognes Muslim population grew.

At the event, Colognes former mayor Fritz Schramma described the mosques architecture as a symbol of an opening blossom, that invites you to peek inside.

DPA/The Local (