Last week, the independent mayor of Cologne announced to the people of the metropolitan city of North Rhine-Westphalia the great news: From now on, as part of a “model project,” a muezzin can invite the members of his mosque to prayer on Fridays using a loudspeaker.
Mayor Henriette Reker also warned residents that
Muslims are “solid members of urban society,” and anyone who would dare doubt this “questions Cologne’s identity and peaceful coexistence.”
She then continued:
„If, in our city, we can hear the call of the muezzin in addition to the bells of the churches, it proves that Cologne supports diversity and lives accordingly.”
Although this may be new in Cologne, this is already a common practice in several German cities, such as Frankfurt.
However, the situation is not as simple as Reker would want us to believe. This is because the muezzin not only calls believers to prayer, but also always proclaims that “Allah is the greatest, there is no god but Allah,” which can provoke strong resentment in citizens of other religious orientations.
The threat of learned lawyer Reker against citizens who resist has been just recently backed up in reality. A lawsuit came to a temporary end a few days ago, when the Leipzig Administrative Court rejected the petition of a citizen of Oer-Erkenschwick.
Hans-Joachim Lehmann’s action was directed against the local cry of the muezzin precisely because it does not simply call for prayer, but claims that there would be no other God but Allah. This is a publicly circulated religious resolution, says Lehmann’s lawyer, which thus violates the constitutional right to religious freedom.
In contrast, the administrative court ruled that “the cry is without a doubt a prayer, but it does not force anyone to participate in religion.”
Lehmann’s lawyer said that several people initially supported the lawsuit but were put under so much pressure that they later withdrew. He now plans to take the matter to Germany’s Constitutional Court, but given the slavish politicization of the Court, it most likely does not stand much of a chance.