The mayor of Cologne has announced a two-year pilot project that will allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer on the Muslim day of rest each week. All 35 mosques in the western German city will now be able to play the call for up to five minutes on Fridays between noon and 3 p.m. local time. Mosques that are interested in taking part will have to conform to guidelines on sound volume that are set depending on where the building is situated. Local residents will also be informed beforehand.
Having been partly financed by donations from the Turkish government's religious affairs authority in Germany, DITIB, the mosque has also been a major source of debate since its construction. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even formally inaugurated the Mosque himself during a controversial visit to Germany in September 2018. Bild journalist Daniel Kremer said that several of the mosques in Cologne were financed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “a man who opposes the liberal values of our democracy”, he said.
“Many residents of Cologne are Muslims. In my view it is a mark of respect to allow the muezzin’s call,” city mayor Henriette Reker wrote on Twitter.
Reker pointed out that Christian calls to prayer were already a central feature of a city famous for its medieval cathedral. “Whoever arrives at Cologne central station is welcomed by the cathedral and the sound of its church bells,” she said. Reker said that the call of a muezzin filling the skies alongside church bells “shows that diversity is both appreciated and enacted in Cologne”.
Kremer added that “it’s wrong to equate church bells with the call to prayer. The bells are a signal without words that also helps tell the time. But the muezzin calls out ‘Allah is great!’ and ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah.’ That is a big difference.”