In the largely immigrant neighborhood of Moabit in Berlin, a prominent women’s rights activist opened the city’s first-ever LGBT, feminist mosque last Friday.
The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque meets in the third floor of a Lutheran church, which it has rented with money donated by Turks, Kurds and Arabs, the Associated Press reports.
Its first call to prayer was led by an American female imam. At the new mosque, men and women worship in the same room, and people of all genders and sexual orientations are welcome, the newswire reported.
“This project was long overdue,” founder Seyran Ates told the Associated Press. “There’s so much Islamist terror and so much evilness happening in the name of my religion … it’s important that we, the modern and liberal Muslims, also show our faces in public.”
Ates, a 54-year-old German of Turkish decent, is also a lawyer, and she is studying to become an imam herself. She has been an outspoken activist on domestic violence, honor killings and forced marriages.
That hasn’t always been a safe job; in 1984, when Ates was 21 and in law school, she worked at a counseling center for Turkish women. There, a furious husband shot her, nearly killing her.
The near-death experience seems to have strengthened both her feminism and her conviction that Islam needed internal reform; in fact, in 2009, she wrote a book called Islam Needs a Sexual Revolution.
The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque is aware that its progressive stance may attract more than just controversy, and it is coordinating on security with both the police and the state office of criminal investigation, Deutsche Welle reported. So far, Ates said, they have received no threats.
Headscarves aren’t mandatory at this new mosque—and in fact, the burqa is banned “for safety reasons and because it is our conviction that the full-face veil has nothing to do with religion, but is a political statement,” Ates said told Der Spiegel.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.