German mosques open their doors on day of reunification | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 03.10.2010
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German mosques open their doors on day of reunification

For 20 years, Germans have been celebrating the day the country became one again on October 3. But another tradition has been going on since 1997 on the same day in Germany's mosques: a nation-wide open house.

A mosque in Duisburg

Mosques like this one welcome visitors on October 3

Since 1990, October 3 has been a holiday in Germany to mark the reunification of the country. But there is another tradition that falls on October 3: it's also the day of a nation-wide open house at Germany's mosques.

The first mosque open house took place in 1997, and this year, the motto is 'The Quran - 1400 years, topical and part of everyday life.' The purpose is to celebrate the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad 1400 years ago.

A man reads the Quran

This year's open house celebrates the revelation of the Quran

On the day of the open house, Germans - Muslims and non Muslims alike - are invited to visit mosques and Islamic cultural centers around the country. All told, over 500 sites will open their doors.

According to the Turkish-Islamic Union Institute for Religion (DITIB), at least 5,000 people took the opportunity to visit Berlin's mosques on Sunday.

"We Muslims with our values are part of this country," said DITIB dialogue organiser Rafet Ozturk.

The first German mosque

Although the mosque open house has only been taking place since 1997, the history of mosques in Germany goes back much further.

According to the website of the Muslim Coordination Council KRM, Germany's first mosque was built in 1739 by the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I. He built it for some of his Muslim soldiers so they would have a place to pray, just like their Christian comrades in arms had at the Soldiers' Church in Potsdam.

Today, there are over 2,000 mosques in Germany.

Author: Matt Zuvela
Editor: Susan Houlton

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