Syrian refugees in Germany have a hard time finding mosques to attend, as the available ones are more conservative than what they’re used to.
Islamist extremists are trying to capitalize on the refugee crisis by recruiting migrants to their networks. Around 90 mosques suspected of having ties to extremism are currently under surveillance in Germany.
The lack of moderate Arab-speaking mosques have become a problem for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians that came to the country in 2015.
Salam — a 36-year-old refugee from Damascus — was told “good Muslims grow beards, not mustaches” outside his local mosque in Cologne. He recalls a man getting kicked out of a sermon for wearing shorts in the mosque, which Salam found shocking in comparison to what he’s used to in Syria.
“Everything about this mosque made me feel uneasy,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
A majority of mosques in Germany conduct sermons in Turkish. Arabic mosques tend to stick to “pure Islamic teachings” and often struggle financially without help from rich investors in the Middle East.
“Unfortunately it is true that a large majority of Arabic-speaking mosques are more conservative than Turkish mosques,” Mouhannad Khorchide, head of the Centre for Islamic Theology at Muenster University, told Reuters. “How can one absorb these people if they are interested in their religion? When there is a shortage of offers the Salafists try to fill the gap.”
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