Syrians In Germany Say Mosques Are Too Conservative


A dozen Syrians in six German mosques say that they are uncomfortable with the conservatism displayed in their new houses of worship.

Hani Salam, a Syrian refugee, told Reuters that the long bushy beards worn by the men at the mosque near his home remind him of Jaish al-Islam, the rebels who took over his hometown near Damascus.

Salam, who sports a mustache but no beard, was told that "good Muslims grow beards, not mustaches," an idea that is centuries old, and that Salam doesn't buy into.

He says he once saw a Salafist ask a young man to leave the mosque because he was wearing shorts. "At the Turkish mosque," he said, "no one cares what you're wearing."

Most of Germany's 4 million Muslims came from Turkey, and attend Turkish-speaking mosques, which are partially funded by the Turkish government. 

Arabic-speaking mosques, on the other hand, are frequently underfunded, or are funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Some of these back highly literal interpretations of Islam, like Wahhabism or Salafism. 

Even though he doesn't speak the language, Salam said that he started going to a Turkish mosque.

Of the 75 Syrians who live in the hotel Salam calls home, Salam said that just one woman who wears a hijab prays at the nearest Arabic-speaking mosque. 

An imam at the mosque responded to the concerns of the Syrians who are uncomfortable with the strict interpretation of the Koran the mosque espouses. "It's an honor to be called a Salafist," he said. "We are only interested in giving members of our community pure Islamic teachings."

Salafis make up just a small percentage of German Muslims, according to the Los Angeles Times. But, security officials say, they are more likely to join jihadist groups than members of the religion's other sects. The German government says that they want to overturn democracy and install a system of Sharia.

The president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen, said in mid-September that there are 9,200 Salafis in Germany, 300 more than there were in June, and 3,700 more than there were three years ago. 

"The unchecked growth in the number of Salafis is expanding the pool of recruits for jihadists," Maassen said.

Nearly all of the Germans who went to Syria to fight for ISIS have been radicalized by Salafis.

Sources: Reuters, Los Angeles Times / Photo credit: YouTube via GateStone Institute

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