Mathias Rohe: No General Problem with Mosques in Germany

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In his newly published book “Inside Islam”, Journalist Constantin Schreiber draws a negative picture of mosques in Germany. Many of the prayers visited by him contained anti-democratic ideas. In conversation with Deutschlandradio Kultur , Mathias Rohe, Islamic scholar and director of the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe, comments on Schreibers work.

Over a period of eight months, Constantin Schreiber listened to prayers in 13 german mosques. His aim: opening the “blackbox” of mosques and to inform the public about what is preached in mosques in Germany. Schreibers results are disillusioning: 80-90 per cent of prayers were coined by an integration-restraining and anti-democratic body of thought. What does Mathias Rohe, Islamic scholar and lawyer, think of Schreibers accusations?

First of all, Schreibers conception to listen to what was preached in German mosques, was very meritorious, says Rohe in an interview with the German broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur. However, he strictly warns about operating with percentages: From time to time, such numbers would take a life of their own. Furthermore, reliable German surveys, such as the Bertelsmann-Religionsmonitor, were showing a high degree of affirmation to the democratic idea within the Muslim communities in Germany. Their attitudes were comparable with those of the rest of German society.

For Rohe, there is no general problem with mosques in Germany, but some problems with some mosques: The contents of some prayers, especially in the Salafi milieu, were problematic. Calls for violence were comparatively rare, however, one could indeed find calls for societal isolation. For Rohe, this surely is a constraint to integration. Furthermore, he agrees with Schreibers conclusion that many mosques preached a conservative family portrait: “Feminism is rather underrepresented”. However, one would have to distinguish between statements that were contrary to the German legal order and such statements that were societally undesirable, but legitimate.

Here, Mathias Rohe calls for the German civil society: A societal controversy on contents of prayers, such as propagating patriarchal family structures, was necessary to show again and again, why men and women in Germany were equal before the law. Such a debate was necessary but could not be enforced, Rohe said.

In general, for Mathias Rohe, it was important to build bridges to those Muslims that have already arrived in German society – and luckily, there were many of them.

The interview with Deutschlandradio Kultur can be found here.