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SMOKING

Germany and the seven deadly sins

Beer, chocolate, car keys! Lock them all away, say Germans, who more than half say they partake in Lent, the seven-week fasting period before Easter, but more for health rather than religious reasons.

Germany and the seven deadly sins

Alcohol, sweets and meat are the things more than half of Germans most commonly give up for Lent, a poll by German health insurer DAK shows.

Booze was most likely to be renounced, and with good reason. In 2014, Germans drank more beer than the year before for the first time in a decade.

Around 70 percent of respondents said alcohol was something they had given up in the past.

PHOTO GALLERY: Germany and the Seven Deadly Sins

After alcohol came sweets (64 percent), meat (41 percent) and smoking (40 percent).

A German minister on Tuesday asked people to not throw things they are renouncing in the bin.

"Lent is a good opportunity to think about the value in our food," said Food and Agriculture Minister  Christian Schmidt.

The DAK survey also showed that Germans were also ready to give up watching television (33 percent) as well as internet-connected devices like computers and mobile phones (27 percent).

For others, Lent also meant an opportunity to do something for the environment, as 15 percent give up their car for the seven weeks.

And while Germans often give up things because it's good for them, people living in states with higher numbers of churchgoers are most likely to give something up. 

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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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