BERLIN (AP) — The German city of Cologne will start permitting mosques to broadcast muezzin calls for prayer, the city said Monday.
The calls can be broadcast for five minutes every week for the Friday prayer around noon and audible outside the Muslim houses of prayer, city spokeswoman Katja Reuter said.
Cologne mosques need to apply for a special permit in order to be able to broadcast the call. The initiative will be limited to two years and then be re-evaluated.
The city’s mayor welcomed the decision, saying that “if in addition to the sounds of the church bells we also hear the call of the muezzin, it shows that in Cologne diversity is valued and lived.”
“Permitting the call of the muezzin is a sign of respect,” Mayor Henriette Reker tweeted last week.
Christian church bells ring out daily in many German cities and towns.
Cologne, a western city of 1 million, has one of Germany’s biggest Muslim communities and about 35 mosques. Most Muslims initially came from Turkey as guest workers 60 years ago and then later brought their families.
Only few other Muslim houses of prayer across Germany, like in the western towns of Oer-Erkenschwick and Dueren, have been broadcasting the muezzin’s call for years, sometimes despite the protests of Christian neighbors.