CBNNews.com - The first mosque in East Berlin, Germany is now open. Besides Muslim worshippers, protestors have also appeared behind police barricades three blocks away to show their distain for the Khadija Mosque.
The white two-story mosque boasts a 42-foot silver dome in the Pankaw District.
"This one is special," said Fazlur Rehman Anwar, a member of the Ahmadiyya community in Hamburg, who was in Berlin for the opening. "It is in the capital. It is the first one in East Germany."
Click play to watch the CBN News report plus CBN News Senior Reporter Dale Hurd gives his analysis on why Europeans are allowing so many mosques to be built in their countries.
Ahmadis follow the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, but also consider their community's founder - Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, born in Qadian, India in 1835 - to be the messiah and a "humble servant of Islam" who sought to reform Islamic practice.
But the construction of the building has been quite controversial. Dozens of protests have occurred since plans for the mosque were announced last year. The protestors include local residents and members of the country's National Democratic Party.
The protest group, "We Are Pankow," says it is opposed to the Ahmadis' strict division between men and women, who are veiled and not permitted to participate in coed sports, and a lack of religious freedom in Muslim countries.
"I don't find it very good, because we are not allowed to build churches in Turkey," said Gudrun Brese, a retiree
who lives near the mosque. "I have a problem with that."
The mayor of the district says the mosque represents a sign of progress. He hopes this will help integrate the city's 200,000 Muslims living in the area.
"I find that an open mosque is much better in view of immigration over that which we often see - a mosque that is in the
back courtyard of a converted warehouse," Ehrhart Koerting told the Berliner Morgenpost daily.
West Berlin already has 70 mosques and there are plans to build more.
Sources: CBN News, The Associated Press