Dulled appetite

Debate over Cologne circumcision ruling overshadows events marking Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Breaking his fast at the large mosque construction site in Cologne, the chairman of the Islamic association DITIB, Ali Dere, puts on a serious face. The good coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims in Germany is currently clouded, he says.

Pita bread, feta cheese and olives. After a long wait, during the day, 200 guests arrived for the Muslim breaking of the fast. Representatives from society and politics can enjoy a special ambience on Tuesday evening – food is served at the large construction site of the new Cologne mosque, soon to be the largest Islamic house of worship in Germany. The 36-meter-high dome and the two 55-meter-high minarets are already impressive.

Between drooping cables and sheathed concrete pillars
Inside, cables hang from the ceiling. A ladder still stands at the far end of the room, the conference hall of the future complex. There the breaking of the fast takes place at sunset. About half of the Islamic fasting month Ramadan is over. During this time, Muslims are forbidden to eat, drink, smoke and have sexual intercourse between the rising and setting of the sun.

The concrete columns inside the mosque are surrounded by red fabric walls. The site has "dressed up" for guests such as the North Rhine-Westphalian Secretary of State for Integration Zulfiye Kaykin (SPD) or Ulrich Poner, head of the Department for World Church and Migration in the Secretariat of the German Bishops' Conference.

Muslims call for protection of minorities
The chairman of the Islamic association DITIB, Ali Dere, steps to a lectern. He makes a serious face. The good coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims in Germany is currently clouded, he says, referring to the circumcision verdict. Minorities in Germany must be protected. Cologne Regional Court had ruled circumcision of Muslim and Jewish boys a bodily harm.

Poner stressed that the Catholic Church will stand alongside Muslims on this ie. The circumcision debate shows that the religious freedom of all people in Germany must be defended, he said. Kaykin joins. Especially if the public discussion does not run positively for the Muslims, the different cultures must continue to come together for joint actions like the breaking of the fast.

Meanwhile, young helpers carry in small salad bowls. Water and juice are already on the table. For the next Ramadan in 2013 the breaking of the fast will take place in the completed mosque, Ali Dere is optimistic during the communal meal. Currently there is no exact date when the mosque will be ready.

During the breaking of the fast, oriental sounds can be heard. Students from Istanbul play on a shawm, a flute-like instrument, and on the ud, which resembles a guitar. Highlight of the "blessed evening" is the singing of the prayer leader. The faithful open their hands in prayer, some speaking along softly. Then there's rice and meat. And hunger is on the wane…

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