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Open Mosque Day welcomes non-Muslims

Cologne, Germany (dpa) – An estimated 2,000 mosques and Islamic prayer halls in Germany opened to the public during a holiday Wednesday, with non-Muslims invited to come in, look around and ask about Islam.

Open Mosque Day has been an annual event in Germany since 1997. Despite the added strain of observing Ramadan at the same time this year, Muslims agreed to keep the customary date, the public holiday of German Unity Day.

Germany’s four main mosque federations jointly sponsored the day, with the motto this year “Mosques: Bridges to a Shared Future.” They estimated 100,000 non-Muslims would visit the places of prayer.

Muslim leaders said the day was a way of seeking dialogue with other Germans and stressing that the 3 Muslims in Germany’s population of 82 million are a full element in mainstream society.

The mosques organized guided tours, panel discussions, exhibitions of precious religious items, book stalls and performances in ethnic dress.

The Islamic Archive of Germany, an Islamic think-tank, says there are 164 mosques of traditional design in Germany and more than 2,600 simpler prayer halls without minarets or domes, most of them converted buildings.



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