Major German city permits muezzin's call to prayer

Leaders of the city with a population of one million have decided to allow the sounding of the Muslim call to prayer. The decision is of indicative value, attracting attention across the country.

WORLD OCTOBER 15. 2021 18:17

From now on, muezzins from any mosque in Cologne are allowed to call believers to prayer. The organisation operating the largest central mosque in the city (and the country), the DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs) has welcomed the decision, saying that the move signals that city leaders consider Muslims to be a natural part of German society.

The statement published by the municipality in the local Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger says that Friday prayer is of paramount significance in Islam and the call of the muezzin is like sounding the bells in Christian churches to invite to prayer. The statement notes that Islam has long been an “integral part” of German society. The opportunity to employ muezzins is new in Cologne, but they have already been operating in several smaller and larger towns all over the country for a long time.

The initiative attracted national attention and generated controversy. Many, including Muslims, have criticised the decision, which the municipality maintains is an expression of respect for Muslims and religious freedom.

Necla Kelek, an Islam expert and sociologist, also criticised the measure, saying that the Islamic organisations supporting the mosques are doing nothing for the equality and integration of women.

None of the more than thirty mosques in Cologne has so far seized the opportunity, but some of them have indicated that they are considering employing a muezzin. The option requires submission of an application, followed by the local municipality and the given mosque’s community signing a contract which restricts the sounding of the muezzin’s call (whether live or recorded) to Fridays between noon and 3 pm, for a maximum of 5 minutes.