Nice Little University You’ve Got Here — It’d be a Shame if Anything Happened to It…

The latest report on the closure of “silent rooms” — de facto mosques — at German universities features protesting Muslims at the Technical University of Berlin. Muslims are angry at the closure of their mosque, and have been gathering for prayers inside and outside the main university building to pray in protest. When the university refused to back down, Muslims ratcheted the conflict up a notch, threatening the university and its president.

Many thanks to Nash Montana for translating this brief news report, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

The following article on the same topic is from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Many thanks to Egri Nök for the translation:

Protests in front of the TU Berlin

Threatening Prayers*

[Photo: The flyer on the person’s backpack reads: “I beg your pardon. I am praying here because our prayer room was closed.”]

Personal threats against the university president, and demonstrators who don’t speak German: a protest against the a ban on using a gym of the TU Berlin as an informal mosque bears shrill features

May 22, 2016
by Regina Mönch

Friday prayers on public spaces, in front of town halls or, as now, in front of a university in Berlin, are still the exception. Two years ago Salafists in Mönchengladbach celebrated them for months, then the haunting was over. Last Friday a staff member of the Technical University of Berlin, Dawud Ansari, applied for, and organized, this prayer as a political demonstration against the public university’s insistence on the imperative of non-alignment.

Ansari claims to speak in the name of all Muslim students, but a look across the square in front of the TU could have taught him better. There, increasingly irritated Muslim students also listened to the aggressive and shrill speeches preceding the prayer, including even anti-Semitic slurs. The students told us that the character of these events changed long before the university prohibited the use of a gym as an informal mosque. More and more people who neither studied or worked at the university attended those Friday prayers, and the sermons of the imams had become more and more extreme. Websites such as “Islamisches Erwachen” (“Islamic Awakening”) — which also discussed the spirit and purpose of the reestablishment of the Caliphate — promoted the initiative in Berlin. But it seems most pious Muslims went to their own mosques, of which there is no shortage in the capital.

The approximately one hundred men who settled on the sidewalk of the Straße des 17. Juni, were surrounded by veiled young women who waved posters with threats to the TU president, among others: “At the next prayer, you will be arrested.” Did they know what that meant? They did not understand German. The personalization of the outrage over the prohibited prayer rooms on all universities of Berlin is what is disturbing about this protest. There had been a video on YouTube that made clear that it was not the resolution of the panel that was attacked, but the president of the TU and a leading associate were to be branded as enemies of Islam.

The video, to which the Süddeutsche Zeitung linked until YouTube pulled it, contained illegal edits of non-public discussions of the university directorate, and unmistakable threats. Some of these the eloquent student leader Ansari repeated on Friday. He is certain that there is an attempt to incite sentiment against Islam, and one should stand up against that.

*   Translator’s note: I think the German title “Drohgebete” is a pun on Drohgebärde, “threatening gesture”.

Below is the university’s official response, as posted at the website of the Technische Universität Berlin, also translated by Egri Nök:

Statement of the TU Berlin on the demonstration of May 20, 2016 by the advocates for the Friday prayer

In January 2016 the chair of the TU Berlin came to the decision that two rooms of the TU in the main building, among them a gym, would as of March 14, 2016 no longer be available for organising the Friday prayer and the daily congregation to prayer. For the Friday prayer, around 500 persons regularly gathered in the gym.

In violation of the University Directorate’s decision, after March 14 2016, Friday prayers continued on a lawn outside the main TU building, and inside the building itself.

Subsequently, those praying were explicitly requested not to organise the Friday prayer, which always was attended by persons neither working nor studying at the TU Berlin, on the grounds of the University.
A demonstration was registered for 20 May 2016, at which persons intended to protest the decision of the TU Berlin.

“We accept and acknowledge the protest. But we will not reverse our established decision. Yet again, we appeal to those involved to perform the Friday prayer at a different place outside of the TU Berlin. There are numerous opportunities for that in Berlin. The public campus of a university is not the right place for the active performance of religion in form of worship, masses and Friday prayers. There is no necessity whatsoever to perform the Friday prayer on campus.

“The decision of the Directorate is supported by numerous members of the TU, among them council members and deans. We, the TU Berlin, and especially I the President, have no interest whatsoever in escalation. Therefore, we appeal to the people responsible and involved to follow the University’s wish and maintain the collegiality at our university,” TU President Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen stressed.

The house regulations of the TU Berlin apply to the indoor areas and the open space, including the green spaces. For actions that are particularly commercial, political, religious or ideological, there must be written permission from the TU Berlin. There is no permission for the Friday prayer. Should there be more Friday prayers against the will and the decision of the University, there will be action on the grounds of the house regulations. The TU reserves the rights to take legal action in order to enforce the house regulations.

You may read an extensive rationale of the decision of the chair here: Ab März keine Gebetsräume mehr an der TU Berlin (link)

It says: “The TU Berlin is an institution funded by taxes and under public law, and is therefore public, and obliged to observe neutrality (non-alignment) regarding confession, religion and creed according to Article 3 of the Basic Law of the Federal republic (of Germany).

“This neutrality, and the premise of separation of church and state, led us to the decision not to provide our rooms in the future anymore for the active exercise of religion, such as worship, masses and Friday prayer. Accordingly, we will no longer rent out or give cost-free rooms and spaces of the TU where groups gather for prayer or religious ritual. This does not belong to the range of tasks performed by a university. A public university is an ideologically neutral, impartial pace where scientific discourse and teaching are central.”

Video transcript:

0:16   Sign: Thomsen University, “MAYBE we will put mercy before justice”
0:19   Dear lovers of justice
0:24   Sign: Do not forbid being together!
0:28   Blue poster: You cannot forbid us to pray! White poster: Then arrest me!
0:33   …with your eyes what Mister Thomsen puts in front of you…
0:37   …because autocracy and marginalization prevail
0:41   …and he said to me, no we will not… [Sign: Thomsen University, I am the Campus!]
0:48   …in case new people may arrive, position yourself to pray with your own rug,
0:54   … and then it will come to… (intelligible)
1:00   Last Friday it happened that where the prayer was, which was held outside the building
1:05   on the grass, it came to a threat directed at the University leadership.
1:09   Students were actively threatened, so that should they perform one more
1:14   Friday prayer, the police will arrest them.

7 thoughts on “Nice Little University You’ve Got Here — It’d be a Shame if Anything Happened to It…

  1. What the hell are they doing at Technical University anyway? Its not religious studies is it?

    • The establishment of ‘religious’ spaces is a commonplace occurrence- regardless of the building’s purpose- first the community centre or religious space, then the prayer-room and demands for special treatment, often these spaces become mosques.
      Some are state-funded.
      Build a mosque or Muslims could get radicalised, is the oft-heard and convoluted, multikulti reasoning.
      When really they’re appeasing threats of menace.

      To note- not that this quote is directly related but it’s illuminating all the same- during a 1974 OIC meeting, soon after the initial Euro-Arab dialogue,
      “OIC general secretary Mohammed Hasan Mohammed al-Tohami highlighted two key related goals:

      (1) Urgent [convening] of a meeting of specialists in the propagation of Islam on a world level, and the establishment of a Jihad Fund…this fund is open with no restrictions…in all fields of Jihad

      (2) Caring for the affairs of cultural centers in Europe, and the establishment of [additional] cultural centers in the continent”

  2. A German lady on vacation asked her Iranian host:
    “Can we go to a traditional restaurant for launch today?”
    “Yes, but we can always get that kind of food from a mosque for free.”
    “Well, I thought a mosque is where people gather for prayer.”
    “No, if you want to pray you better go to Tehran University.”
    “Oo, I always thought a university is where scholars and scientists gather.”
    “No, If you want to meet scholars you must pay a visit to Ewin Prison.”
    “But a prison is where they keep criminals, isn’t it so?”
    “No, if you want to meet the criminals you must pay a visit to parliament.”

    The joke is actually a modified (extended) version of a real conversation. She had no way knowing that it will happen in Germany soon, or did she?

  3. Pass a law making the country a secular state thereby making the practice of religion a PRIVATE matter.
    Should you wish to point your backside to the sky five times a day do it in your own time, off the clock and not in public where it may cause inconvenience to others. Just simple courtesy really when you think about it.

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