A mosque in the German capital allows men and women to mix at prayer and welcomes gay people.
…”Our mosque is open for everybody,” says mosque founder Seyran Ates, a German Turkish-born lawyer and women’s rights activist.
“And we mean that really seriously: everybody, every lifestyle. We are not God. We don’t decide who’s a good or a bad Muslim. Anybody can come through this door – whether you are heterosexual or homosexual, we don’t care, it’s not our right to ask.”
…”To those who are Muslim and believe you can’t be gay or an emancipated woman at the same time as being Muslim, I would say: you can’t be homophobic, misogynistic, Judeophobic and pretend to be Muslim,” he replies.
“Because Islam means being at peace with yourself and others. So that would be an oxymoron, it would be a contradiction.”
…Miriam, who is leading a study group on how to recite the Koran. She patiently explains the correct pronunciation of the verses to Laqa, a man from Pakistan who has lived in Berlin for 28 years.
She tells me that the main point of the mosque is tolerance of each other’s view of Islam. I ask her whether she has different views to those of Ms Ates.
“That’s an easy one,” she laughs, pointing to her head.
“I wear the headscarf and she interprets that in a different way….”
This is the origin of our religion, adds Laqa. “We are all equal, whatever you look like, or whatever colour skin you have, whether you’re gay or lesbian,” he says. “I can’t know whether they have a better connection to God than me. Why should I judge that? I can’t. I shouldn’t.”