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Cologne becomes first major German city to allow mosques to broadcast call to prayer

Cologne becomes first major German city to allow mosques to broadcast call to prayer
Decision ‘shows that in Cologne diversity is valued and lived’, says city’s mayor

Mosques in Cologne, Germany will be permitted to broadcast the muezzin’s call to prayer on Fridays, the city’s authorities have decided.

On Monday, it was announced that the city’s 35 mosques would be able to broadcast the call to prayer for five minutes every week at around noon on Friday, city spokeswoman Katja Reuter said.

Each mosque needs to apply for a specific permit to broadcast the call, notify neighbours in advance and comply with volume limits.

Christian church bells ring out daily in many German cities and towns.

Cologne has one of the largest Muslim populations in Germany and is home to Cologne Central Mosque, the largest mosque in the country.

During controversy surrounding the construction of the large mosque, backers made a point of assuring the public that it would not routinely broadcast the call to prayer, or azan, which is heard five times a day in many Muslim-majority countries.

The city’s mayor welcomed the decision, saying that “if in addition to the sounds of the church bells we also hear the call of the muezzin, it shows that in Cologne diversity is valued and lived.”

“Permitting the call of the muezzin is a sign of respect,” Mayor Henriette Reker tweeted last week.

Only a small number of mosques across Germany, including in the western towns of Oer-Erkenschwick and Dueren, have previously been granted permission to broadcast the call to prayer, sometimes despite the protests of Christian neighbours.