A German city has decided to give away land worth €850,000 to Muslims for free so they can build mosques with minarets up to 65 feet high.
The city of Monheim am Rhein has announced that it will be handing over land for free for the construction of mosques to two separate Muslim associations.
Monheim mayor Daniel Zimmermann said that although the land is worth €850,000, he denied that it was a gift, Die Welt reports. He said that since the land could only be used for the construction of mosques it wasn’t an explicit gift to the two organisations. “There is a provision under certain conditions,” Mr. Zimmermann claimed.
There are already plans being drawn up for the new mosques in Monheim, and the city has expressed a condition that the minarets may not be over 65 feet in height. Further stipulations include the limitation of use of the land meaning that without the consent from the city the Islamic associations may not transfer the land to another party.
The Islamic groups must further sign an agreement that they do not allow extremist preachers who violate the German Constitution to speak at the mosques, though there is no mention of how this will be monitored. If the organisations fail to meet the requirements the land will be turned back over to the city.
One of the organisations taking part in the deal is the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) who will be building their mosque in close proximity to both Catholic and Protestant churches. Mr. Zimmermann claims that the Islamic organisations have been “old friends” of the community since the 1980s.
The move is likely focused on a new German government initiative to create German mosques that are not influenced by foreign countries like Saudi Arabia or Turkey who often subscribe to a more radical and traditional form of Islam.
The two countries have been accused of funding radical preachers in mosques that they establish and financially support. One solution was proposed earlier this year to allow local mosques to tax their worshippers directly to avoid the need for foreign funding. So far the city of Monheim has said the organisations are funding construction of the mosques themselves.
Mosque construction is a hot button issue in Germany and has been the subject of protest by multiple groups including the anti-mass migration party Alternative for Germany (AfD).
AfD member Bjorn Hoecke, famous for daring to brandish a German flag on television, led a protest against the building of a mosque in Erfurt and has shown more enthusiasm for the anti-Islamisation organisation PEGIDA than AfD leader Frauke Petry.
Similarly in Austria, the hipster-right Identitarian youth movement planned to protest the building of a mosque in Graz, but after information of their protest was leaked to police the group used the opportunity to scale the roof of the pro-migrant Green Party instead.