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Frankfurt becomes first German city to light up for Ramadan

AFP
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Frankfurt becomes first German city to light up for Ramadan
Ramadan lights on display in Frankfurt on Sunday evening. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The German city of Frankfurt switched on festive lights Sunday to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in what local media said was a nationwide first.

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A large sign reading "Happy Ramadan" and a display of lights in the shape of stars, lanterns and crescent moons were formally unveiled in an evening ceremony, illuminating a pedestrianised street in the city centre lined with restaurants and cafes.

Local officials and German media said it was the first time a German city had put up street illuminations for Ramadan.

Mayor Nargess Eskandari-Gruenberg called it a "beautiful gesture" that stood for "the peaceful co-existence of all people in Frankfurt".

"In times of crises and wars, this lighting is a sign of hope for all people and strengthens cohesion in our diverse urban society," she said in a statement earlier this week.

The western city of Frankfurt, Germany's financial hub with a population of more than 750,000 people, is home to around 100,000 Muslims.

The Ramadan lights reportedly cost the city at least 75,000.

Ramadan street decorations were also on display in the city of Cologne for the first time, Bild newspaper reported, though those were financed by private donations rather than public funds.

The Frankfurt branch of the Coordinating Council of Muslims welcomed the street lights as a sign of "appreciation and recognition of the cultural and religious diversity of our international city".

READ ALSO: Eight things to know about Islam in Germany

But not all the reactions were positive.

Robert Lambrou, a regional lawmaker from Hesse whose far-right AfD party has been riding high in opinion polls, condemned the Ramadan decorations as a "gesture of submission to Islam".

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The idea to hang the lights came from city councillor Omar Shehata, from Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democratic Party. Shehata told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper he had been inspired by London, which last year lit up for Ramadan for the first time.

Responding to the AfD's criticism, he said: "Many people in Frankfurt stand united against right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism."

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