Founder of Liberal Mosque Has to Have 24/7 Police Protection

The founder of a liberal mosque in Berlin has received so many death threats that the government has given her round-the-clock protection.

Seyran Ates, 54 and a lawyer, has received over 100 death threats since she co-founded the Ibn Ruschd-Goethe Mosque.

“Since setting up the mosque I have received so many death threats through social media that the police decided they have to protect me around the clock,” Ates told The Times.

“The hostile reactions proved how necessary the project was.”

The mosque is open to both Sunnis and Shiites as well as members of the LGBTQ community. Prayers are mixed gender. It does not allow those wearing niqabs or burkas, which Ates says are political statements. Clarion Project advisory board member Dr. Elham Manea participated in the initial prayers, which were led by the American progressive imam Ani Zonneveld.

The mosque was slammed by Egypt’s state-run Islamic organization Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah which objects to men and women praying together.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, considered one of the highest Sunni religious authorities, issued a ban against the establishment of such mosques.

The mosque was also targeted by Turkey.

Turkey’s religious authority, Diyanet, said practices in the mosque “do not align with Islam’s fundamental resources, principles of worship, methodology or experience of more than 14 centuries, and are experiments aimed at nothing more than depraving and ruining religion.”

Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan blasted the mosque saying it is affiliated with the Gulen movement, a rival Turkish Islamist faction he accuses of being behind last summer’s botched coup attempt.

Ates says this is just a smear tactic aimed at shutting down liberal voices. She has vowed to remain open.

She is not perturbed by the threats. In 1984 she was shot by an enraged husband while advising his wife in a women’s-rights center.

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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