Gay-inclusive mosque founder under death threats wants to open new site in London
A co-founder of a liberal mosque in Germany who has faced death threats for accepting gays is looking to open a new site in London.
Seyran Ates, a Turkish lawyer, is the founder of the Ibn Rushd Goeth Mosque.
The mosque accepts Muslims of all sects including Sunnis, Alewives, and Sufis, as well as welcoming gay people and atheists.
Full face veils are also banned at the mosque. Ates has been under police protection since opening the mosque as she has faced vile death threats.
“I’m not alone with this idea. It is a movement, it’s a revolution,” she told the Guardian.
“I may be the face of the liberal mosque, but I alone am not the mosque. We have millions of supporters all over the world.”
The 54-year-old said, of whether she is scared for her safety: “Yes, a little bit. I could be in danger. People recognise me.”
“There are more and more people wanting to break the chains. In many countries you can find people who are practising what we’re doing, but they are doing it under cover, privately,” she added.
“Liberal and secular Muslims are squeezed out by radical Islam, so they decide to be silent. It’s not so easy for liberal Muslims to be ‘out’. It’s like being homosexual. They are tarnished as the ‘enemy of Islam’.”
Speaking to the Times earlier this month Ms Ates said: “Since setting up the mosque I have received so many death threats through social media that the police decided they have to protect me around the clock.
“The hostile reactions proved how necessary the project was.”
As well as receiving threats, Ms Ates has been called “the Devil incarnate” and some social media posts have called for her to “burn in hell”.
The mosque founders have also been condemned by Turkey’s main authority for Muslims, Diyanet.
The authority said the liberal mosque represents a threat to Islam.
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In a statement, Diyanet said: “The mosque’s practices “do not align with Islam’s fundamental resources, principles of worship, methodology or experience of more than 14 centuries, and are experiments aimed at nothing more than depraving and ruining religion.
“We are convinced that all fellow believers will keep their distance from such provocations.”
Ms Ates added: “They are labelling us as terrorists. Instead of engaging in a sensible religious debate, we’re being pilloried politically. That’s woeful.”
The mosque is currently located at a Protestant church in Moabit, Berlin.
Just a few dozen worshippers currently attend, but police have been forced to stand guard at Friday prayers following death threats.