SHARE
COPY LINK

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

RELIGION

German employers can ban headscarves ‘in some cases’, EU court rules

Employers can in principle ban staff from wearing headscarves in the workplace, an EU court ruled Thursday in two cases brought by Muslim women working in Germany.

German employers can ban headscarves 'in some cases', EU court rules
Three women in headscarves stand in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Monika Skolimowska

A ban on religious symbols such as headscarves “may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes”, the European Court of Justice said in a statement.

The employer must also show it is not discriminating between different beliefs and religions in its policy, the court said.

The two women, a cashier in a chemist and a special needs carer, had taken their cases to German courts after being prohibited from wearing headscarves at work.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: A breakdown of Germany’s Muslim population

The German courts had then referred the cases to the ECJ for an interpretation of EU law.

The woman working at the chemist had been employed there since 2002 and had initially not worn a headscarf, but had wanted to begin wearing one after returning from parental leave in 2014.

However, the chemist instructed her to come to work “without conspicuous, large-sized signs of any political, philosophical or religious beliefs”, the ECJ said.

The second woman was employed in 2016 as carer at a non-profit association and had initially worn a headscarf at work.

She too went on parental leave, during which time the association issued a policy prohibiting the wearing of visible signs of political, ideological or religious conviction in the workplace for employees with customer contact.

READ ALSO: Germany upholds headscarf ban for trainee Muslim lawyers

After returning from parental leave, she refused to remove the headscarf, which resulted in several warnings and eventually in her being dismissed.

National courts must examine in each individual case whether company rules are compatible with national laws on religious freedom and the need for a “policy of neutrality”, the ECJ said.

There must be “a genuine need on the part of the employer” for such a policy, it said, and it must also not go against “national provisions on the protection of freedom of religion”.

SHOW COMMENTS