A new playground structure resembling a mini-mosque located in the heavily migrant-populated Berlin suburb of Neukölln has caused an outcry from Germans who say the structure is not appropriate.
The playground, which is located on Walterstrasse, features camels, palm trees, and a domed structure with a crescent moon finial. While the designers claim the structures are a homage to the classic tale, “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves”, many local residents have been deeply critical, Berliner Zeitung reports.
— Berliner Zeitung (@berlinerzeitung) November 2, 2017
A 41-year-old local resident and mother slammed the new design saying: “It looks exotic, but children’s playground should not be associated with religion.” The sentiment was shared by a 29-year-old nurse who said that “crosses or crescents” were not appropriate on children’s playgrounds.
While there was criticism from locals, the outrage against the project was much more intense on social media. On Twitter, one German user wrote: “Why should there be a mosque there? Build your fairytale playground, but no Muslim symbols.”
Burkard Dregger, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary group for integration policy, said: “Of course one could describe the design as original or just plain idiotic.”
Neukölln Social Democrat (SPD) district mayor Franziska Giffey called the entire debate and reaction to the project “absurd”.
Giffey said the project was inspired by a nearby daycare centre named after Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and that other playgrounds have similar themes like Pippy Longstocking.
The subject of Islamisation has become a leading issue in Germany after the migrant crisis dramatically increased the number of Muslims in the country and the recent growth of the number of violent Islamic extremists.
Uproar as German Lawmaker Proposes Observance of Muslim Public Holidays https://t.co/SvnbigDLn9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 15, 2017
Last month, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière sparked outrage after he said he was open to the possibility of adding Muslim holidays to the official German public calendar. His statements echo the sentiment of Chancellor Merkel who has on more than on occasion said that Islam belongs to Germany.
Despite the rhetoric from Merkel and her allies, a poll taken last year showed that Germans overwhelmingly do not agree that Islam is a part of Germany and many fear the Islamisation of their country.