An “LGBT-friendly” mosque in Berlin may soon be permanently shuttered amid ongoing concerns of a terrorist attack due to its “liberal Islamic” values. The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque, the world’s first and only progressive Muslim place of prayer, was named in a bomb plot earlier this year and has been temporarily shuttered since.
Established in 2017, the mosque was named after Ibn Rushd, an Anatolian polymath, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German statesman and politician. It was founded by Turkish lawyer Seyran Ateş, who had immigrated to West Germany when she was 6 years old.
Ateş, who is a board member with the Institute for Secular Law, is a vocal women’s rights advocate and has been physically attacked repeatedly in the past for her work with victims of domestic violence from Muslim communities.
In founding the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque, Ateş said she stood “for a reading of the Quran which is oriented to mercifulness, love of God, and most of all – to peace.” In extremely unorthodox fashion, the mosque was opened to Sunni and Shia Muslims, allowed mix-sex prayer, promoted LGBT advocacy, and prohibited women from wearing full face or head coverings.
While the mosque was praised by left-wing activists, it did not receive a warm response from the Muslim community, and an Egyptian Islamic legal council issued a religious ruling (“fatwa“) condemning the mosque shortly after it opened.
In 2022, Ibn Rushd-Goethe was the only known mosque in Europe to raise the Pride flag. In one iteration of the display, the LGBT rainbow and slogan “Love is Halal” was incorporated into the Arabic calligraphy representing a halal certification.
Earlier this year, the mosque was the target of a terrorist threat, with attack plans becoming known after the German security authority arrested several men from Tajikistan. Investigators found photographs that indicated plans for an attack, naming the mosque as a potential target. The mosque was also labeled “a house of devil worship” by a magazine associated with the Islamic State.
On October 25, the mosque announced through its Instagram that it would be temporarily closing amid the repeat threats, taking its prayer service and other resource services online.
The announcement pleaded with lawmakers for help, writing that it hoped the “temporary closure … would serve as the final wake-up call for all those who are political decision-makers to begin to critically reflect on and finally correct” the policies on dealing with Islamic extremism. It goes on to note that if the mosque is not better protected, it will have no choice but to be permanently closed.
“Give love a safe space. Love is halal,” the statement reads.
The mosque also assured its detractors that it would continue its mission to spread “liberal” Islam, adding: “To all those who are already looking forward to the possible complete closure of the mosque and hope that this means the end of our work, please note that we will continue.”