Seyran Ates' vision of a liberal mosque where all Muslims can pray together - women and men, Sunni and Shiite, straight and gay - turned into reality Friday as dozens of people came together in Berlin to inaugurate a new house of prayer.
Ates, a well-known women's right activist and lawyer, preached in front of the crowd which filled the mosque. A female imam from the United States, Ani Zonneveld, called for prayer as the faithful kneeled behind her in rows, all turned in the direction of Mecca.
"I couldn't be more euphoric, it's a dream come true," Ates, the 54-year-old daughter of Turkish guest workers in Germany, told The Associated Press this week with a smile.
Ates fought for eight years to establish a place of prayer where progressive Muslims in Germany can leave religious conflicts behind and focus on their shared Islamic values. The mosque is the first of its kind in Germany, she said.
"This project was long overdue," Ates said. "There's so much Islamist terror and so much evilness happening in the name of my religion ... it's important that we, the modern and liberal Muslims, also show our faces in public." Read more via Haaretz