Last month, Germany’s first “liberal mosque” opened to much media fanfare. The woman behind the project, a lawyer named Seyran Ates, aspires to be Berlin’s first female imam and has proudly proclaimed that “there is no contradiction in being a Muslim and a feminist.” But, Vijeta Uniyal writes, the enthusiasm of the German and American media has not been reciprocated by Muslim groups in Germany or abroad:
German reporters and press photographers, eager to give glowing coverage, thronged to witness the mosque’s opening on June 16 and easily outnumbered the handful of Muslim worshipers. . . .
[What’s more], the media-driven PR campaign backfired, as the news of the opening of the Berlin liberal mosque reached Muslim communities in Germany and abroad. . . . Islamic fanatics from near and far started flooding the Berlin mosque with death threats. . . .
[According to] the British newspaper the Guardian, [Ates] said she had received “300 emails per day encouraging me to carry on,” including from places as far away as Australia and Algeria, but also “3,000 emails a day full of hate,” some of them including death threats. . . .
After countless death threats, the newspapers reached out to Aiman Mazyek, head of [Germany’s] Central Council of Muslims. He shrugged his shoulders and said there were 2,100 mosques in Germany and he “doesn’t need to comment on each and every one of them.” . . . .
This response, writes Uniyal, is typical for Germany’s major Muslim organizations whenever the government and press try to showcase a gentler side to Islam.