Muslims in Germany have opened the doors of their mosques to non-Muslims on Friday with the hope of eliminating prejudices against Muslims and encouraging cultural exchange.
“Unfortunately we are witnessing a growing fear of Islam and growing hostilities against Muslims in German society,” Ender Cetin, the chairman of the Sehitlik Mosque Association in Berlin, told journalists during the “Open mosque day” event.
“Our German guests here are often asking us questions on violence and terrorism and whether they have any root in Islam. We are telling them the real values of Islam, informing them about our activities against extremism. We are trying to reduce prejudices against Muslims,” Cetin said.
Recent reports of violent murders and atrocities committed by ISIL have sparked suspicion and a negative backlash towards Muslims across Germany.
Germany has approximately four million Muslims; around three million of them of Turkish origin. According to a recent representative public poll by Infratest-dimap, 42 percent of Germans now view Islam as “aggressive” and 38 percent as a “threat.”
Germany’s Muslim Coordination Council, a platform bringing together the four largest Muslim organizations in the country, expressed hope on Friday that with the “Open mosque day” they will be able to present to German society the various aspects of Muslim community life and answer questions on Islam.
Organizers said more than a hundred thousand visitors attended events at more than 700 mosques across Germany.
“That is a beautiful building. Taking off shoes before entering the mosque was not something common to me. Overall, I had a positive impression,” he said.
Sabine Schwanz stressed that as a Christian, it was interesting to learn more about Islam.
“These kind of events help reduce prejudices,” she stressed.