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Recommendations of the German Islam Conference on mosque construction

Since the 2nd plenary meeting of the German Islam Conference (DIK) in 2007, having addressed the issue of the "Construction and running of mosques in Germany" the Conference has reached the following conclusions and recommendations in an interim resume of the DIK:

The construction of mosques is an important step towards the integration of Islam in Germany. As new mosques are built, Muslim congregations leave their backyards and temporarily converted buildings and signal their intention to become a permanent part of German society.

In towns and communities, however, the building of mosques is frequently the subject of conflicts. Concerns about the resulting traffic congestion occasionally play a role. At the same time, however, conflicts about integration are frequently battled out. The construction of a mosque shows the presence of Islam in the town. This can provoke reservations and arouse fears. In most cases the conflict fades away, once the building is completed and life returns to normal. Sometimes, however, attitudes can be detected that must be dealt with by politics and society over and above individual cases.

The religious freedom guaranteed by the German Constitution also of course includes the right of Muslim congregations to build mosques. Premises for work in the community form part of these. In terms of construction planning regulations, therefore, jurisdiction places mosques on a par with churches and synagogues. Nor are there any anomalies with regard to building regulations and emission control laws. This is why legislation is unable to make a significant contribution to resolving or allaying conflicts. Impartial evidence uninfluenced by individual cases, above all on the often controversial issue of the location of buildings used for the purposes of church services, could be a useful professional tool.

Local politics and administrations can work to limit conflicts over the building of mosques or even prevent them from arising in the first place. It is helpful to have an urban development policy which actively addresses needs and possible sites for mosques, and public relations work which expressly advocates the construction of mosques whilst taking seriously any fears among the population at the same time.

Muslim builders should work towards widespread acceptance of their construction projects by providing prompt and precise information. At the same time, it should also be clarified who is supporting the mosque, what activities are planned there and how contact with the neighbourhood is to be organised. It also helps to have the greatest possible degree of transparency with regard to financing. If provision is not only made for premises whose use is closely linked with the practice of religion, such as a halal butcher or accommodation for the imam, but additional commercial establishments or apartments are also built for financial reasons, then it must be ensured that town planning or integration problems are not exacerbated.

The timely consultation of suitably qualified people or the appointment of a mediator can alleviate, or completely prevent, conflicts about the construction of a mosque. The initiative for this can come from the Muslim community or from the local authority alike. People who are able to use the confidence and respect that they command from both sides are to be considered for this job.

Politicians and the public, particularly at local level, the media, churches or other religious organisations, builders and local neighbourhoods are collectively responsible for ensuring that discussions on the construction of mosques are conducted objectively, thus promoting rather than contesting the integration of Islam in Germany.

Working group 2 "Religionsfragen im deutschen Verfassungsverständnis" [Issues of religion within the concept of the German Constitution] from the interim resume of the DIK working groups, 2008.

Additional Information

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