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FOOTBALL

Muslims irked by Schalke fan song referring to Mohammed

Football club Schalke 04 have become the target of protest letters from Muslims offended by the official anthem of the Ruhr Valley Bundesliga team.

Muslims irked by Schalke fan song referring to Mohammed
Photo: DPA

Muslims have voiced their protest, mainly in internet forums, and threatened the club over the third stanza of the “Blue and White, how I love you” anthem which fans have sung for decades and refers to Islam’s main prophet Mohammed.

The passage Muslims consider insulting translates as: “Mohammed was a prophet who understood nothing about football, but from all the colours, it’s the blue and white he would have picked.”

Club authorities are taking the protest campaign very seriously.

“We’ve requested an expert on Islam to look into the question. While awaiting the result of his work we don’t wish to say any more,” a spokesman for the club said.

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany have refused to see the song as “blasphemous.”

“The way it’s phrased could anger some,” conceded the Council’s secretary general Aiman Mazyek, noting that the populations of both Gelsenkirchen and the Ruhr Valley comprised largely of the Turkish community.

“We’re not demanding that the song be banned,” he added.

More than four million Muslims live in Germany, most of Turkish background.

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ISLAM

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday

The mayor of Cologne has announced a two-year pilot project that will allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer on the Muslim day of rest each week.

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday
The DITIP mosque in Cologne. Photo: dpa | Henning Kaiser

Mosques in the city of the banks of the Rhine will be allowed to call worshippers to prayer on Fridays for five minutes between midday and 3pm.

“Many residents of Cologne are Muslims. In my view it is a mark of respect to allow the muezzin’s call,” city mayor Henriette Reker wrote on Twitter.

In Muslim-majority countries, a muezzin calls worshippers to prayer five times a day to remind people that one of the daily prayers is about to take place.

Traditionally the muezzins would call out from the minaret of the mosque but these days the call is generally broadcast over loudspeakers.

Cologne’s pilot project would permit such broadcasts to coincide with the main weekly prayer, which takes place on a Friday afternoon.

Reker pointed out that Christian calls to prayer were already a central feature of a city famous for its medieval cathedral.

“Whoever arrives at Cologne central station is welcomed by the cathedral and the sound of its church bells,” she said.

Reker said that the call of a muezzin filling the skies alongside church bells “shows that diversity is both appreciated and enacted in Cologne”.

Mosques that are interested in taking part will have to conform to guidelines on sound volume that are set depending on where the building is situated. Local residents will also be informed beforehand.

The pilot project has come in for criticism from some quarters.

Bild journalist Daniel Kremer said that several of the mosques in Cologne were financed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “a man who opposes the liberal values of our democracy”, he said.

Kremer added that “it’s wrong to equate church bells with the call to prayer. The bells are a signal without words that also helps tell the time. But the muezzin calls out ‘Allah is great!’ and ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah.’ That is a big difference.”

Cologne is not the first city in North Rhine-Westphalia to allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer.

In a region with a large Turkish immigrant community, mosques in Gelsenkirchen and Düren have been broadcasting the religious call since as long ago as the 1990s.

SEE ALSO: Imams ‘made in Germany’: country’s first Islamic training college opens its doors

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