The female founder of a new “liberal” mosque in Berlin has found herself under 24-hour police protection after receiving over a hundred death threats.
Female lawyer Seyran Ates is the founder of the liberal Ibn Ruschd-Goethe mosque, which was established earlier this year. Ms. Ates, a Kurdish Muslim born in Turkey, blames the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying Erdoğan supporters were behind the daily death threats, Kronen Zeitung reports.
Diyanet, the Turkish government’s religious authority, immediately slammed Ates and her mosque accusing the founders of being close to the Gulen movement who they blame for the attempted coup last summer.
As a result of Diyanet’s accusations, many Muslims in Berlin have totally avoided the mosque and Ates herself has had to be put under police protection.
“On social media, I have received so many death threats because of the establishment of the mosque that the National Criminal Police Office has come to believe that I have to protect myself around the clock,” Ates said.
According to reports, President Erdoğan himself has commented on the mosque saying that it should be closed as soon as possible.
“This shows once again the childish spirit of Erdoğan, who has never understood democracy and never wanted it. Erdoğan does not consider personal liberties,” Ates said.
Ates said she believes the Turkish government wants to shut down the mosque because of its liberal interpretation of Islam, and associating her with the Gulen movement is a way to intimidate her and others.
The mosque is unique in Germany, being open to both Sunni and Shi’a followers, allowing men and women to pray in the same room, and not requiring women to wear headscarves.
After the attempted coup last year, many Gulen movement members and opposition Kurds said they faced an increase in violence from Turkish nationalist groups. One ultra-nationalist group, known as the Grey Wolves, have become a real threat to opponents of Erdoğan in Germany and have violently clashed with Kurds.
Ates is not the only Muslim attempting to reform Islam in the West. In Australia, Imam Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi has commented on recent Islamic terror attacks saying it was multiculturalism that was to blame for Islamic radicalisation.
“Terrorism in the UK is growing week after week. Having extremists within our societies is not multiculturalism, it’s suicide,” he wrote on Twitter.
Tawhidi has also called on Western governments to ban certain books like the Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith which he blames for justifying many of the actions of radical extremists.