The female Imam-in-training behind the first feminist mosque is receiving 24-hour security after being inundated with death threats since the mosque's opening.
54 year-old lawyer and author Seyran Ates opened the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque in Berlin last month, much to the disapproval of many. The mosque allows men and women to pray together - something that has never been allowed in any known mosque before - and is open to LGBT muslims as well. Housed in a section of a former Lutheran church, the mosque welcomes people of other religions and even those of no faith at all. Ates has led prayers at the mosque, a role traditionally reserved for male Imams.
Talking to German press, she mentioned a time where she was crossing the street and was approached by three men. They asked her if she was in charge of the “perverse” mosque where “men, women, lesbians and gays” could pray together. Responding yes, one of the men shouted to her: “You'll die!” This isn't the first time she's experienced these kinds of threats.
Ates accused the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of encouraging hatred towards her after it was reported in a German newspaper that he had called for the German government to shut down the mosque.
Additional to some of the other newer rules that she has put in place, she has also banned burqas and niqabs in the mosque as she believes that they constitute 'political statements', as well as believing that the covering of faces could interfere with health and safety for those in the mosque.
Talking to German website The Local, the German-Turkish human rights activist spoke about the security measures in place: “Over social media, I have received so many death threats due to the founding of the mosque that the State Office of Criminal Investigations has determined that they must protect me around the clock.”
Ates is not only a brave woman, but a true fighter for equality for all. We hope that more people will be inclined to follow in her footsteps and create safe spaces for those who follow religion but often feel unwelcome in places of worship.