The founder of a new “liberal” mosque in Berlin, Germany has received numerous death threats, prompting police protection “around the clock” out of fears for her safety.
Seyran Ates is a feminist Turkish-heritage woman who founded the progressive mosque that welcomes gay Muslims, atheists, allows women and men to pray together and prohibits Islamic full face veils inside.
She told told Welt am Sonnta newspaper that she’s under police protection following 100 death threats she has received since opening the mosque three weeks ago, The Local reported.
“Over social media, I have received so many death threats due to the founding of the mosque that the State Office of Criminal Investigations has determined that they must protect me around the clock,” Ates told the paper.
The 54-year-old claims she was once approached by three men in the street asking whether she founded the “perverse” mosque where “men, women, lesbians and gays” gather together to pray.
After dodging the inquisitors, they shouted “you’ll die”.
She recently met with Germany’s Green Party leader Cem Özdemir and out of safety concerns was driven in an armored limousine and had the protection of three guards.
According to the Green Party leader, however, the threats and harassment are’t just from homegrown residents. He claims Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is behind the threats and even reportedly tried to pressure the German government into closing down the mosque.
“That shows again what sort of man Erdogan is, that he has never understood democracy, or more precisely that he does not want to,” Ates said. “Erdogan thinks nothing of personal freedoms.”
The founder of the mosque also said German media and Islamic organizations close to the Turkish government are behind the threats against her.
They have accused her and her mosque being aligned with exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, who was blamed by Turkish President for an attempted coup last year.
“This is how this line of thought emerges: Gülen followers, terrorists, outlaws,” she added, denying any contact with Gülen supporters.
The Central Council of Muslims in Germany has condemned the threats.
“I utterly condemn the death threats and can unfortunately empathize with Ms. A’s situation because I now and then also receive death threats,” said the council’s chair, Aiman Mazyek.