Rise in Mosque-Building Shows Surge in Muslim Immigrants

March 17, 2004

Source: Los Angeles Times


On March 17, 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported, "The chink and scrape of stonecutters echo through the gray-domed mosque that rises like a glimmer of misplaced architecture in a city where the Muslim call to prayer is a widening whisper...Anxious Berliners sometimes peek into the courtyard, where Ali Gulcek, a husky, nimble man, assures them his religion is not a threat. 'I need to enlighten the Germans so their prejudice of Islam will go away,' said Gulcek, whose Islamic organization is building the mosque...Gulcek's mosque is part of the surge in Islamic construction sweeping Germany. The number of traditional mosques with their distinctive minarets nearly doubled in Germany from 77 in 2002 to 141 in 2003, according to Islam Archive, a Muslim research group in the city of Soest. An additional 154 mosques and cultural centers are planned, many of them in the countryside, where vistas are dotted with symbols of crescent moons and crosses. Like the cultural battles over allowing Muslim women to wear headscarves in European schools, mosques are an indication that immigration is transforming social, religious and aesthetic landscapes. Staccato Turkish and throaty Arabic syllables whirl amid European vernaculars, and where once there was a German bakery there is now a Moroccan kebab stand. In some bookshops, the Koran is as prominent as the Bible, and Islamic worry beads sometimes rattle alongside rosaries."