Model of a mosque

Controversial Dome

In 2006, the Turkish-Islamic association „DITIB“ held a competition for the design of a prestigious place of worship in the Cologne district of Ehrenfeld. Architects Gottfried Boehm, best known for his churches, and his son Paul, won the competition. The impressive dome with its broken shell-like curved sections conveys transparency and openness. Nevertheless, the city is divided over it. Although there has been a large house of prayer for Muslims at this location in Cologne since 1984, the spectacular and prominent new building triggered debates within society: What place does Islam have in our society?

Diverse political interests exacerbated the discussion. The client, DITIB, attracts regular criticism for its very close ties to the Turkish government. Citizens sceptical of Islam demanded that the project be terminated, while proponents of a cosmopolitan society welcomed the initiative. Though the mosque’s opponents even went so far as to send death threats, Cologne city council approved construction in August 2008 after intense consultation.

Thereafter, associations and involved citizens attempted to soothe the tensions. As early as 2009, the Ehrenfeld Carnival Committee included the mosque on one of its medals alongside other Cologne monuments. But when FC Cologne included the mosque and other city sights on its new away kits, a heated debate ensued. When one member announced he was quitting due to this, the club reacted quickly, confirming and explicitly welcoming the resignation. The mosque belonged to the cityscape of Cologne.