KAUFBEUREN – Muslims’ dream and hopes of having a new mosque in Kaufbeuren town in Bavaria, Germany, have been hit with a setback after citizens voted on Sunday, July 22 against providing a public land for the mosque, Deutsche Welle reported.
At least 45% of approximately 34,000 eligible voters took part in the local referendum. A minimum turnout of 20% was necessary to make the vote valid.
The council of Kaufbeuren was planning since 2017 to provide the local branch of the Turkish-Islamic Religious Association (DITIB) with a 5,000m2-plot because the town’s current mosque is very small for the expanding Muslim community.
The result of the vote was triggered by a local initiative named ‘Kaufbeurer Bürger gegen Neubau einer Ditib-Moschee’ or ‘Kaufbeuren citizens against a new DITIB mosque’
The initiative was started by Werner Göpel, a retired detective, and garnered enough votes to stop the negotiations of the mosque project.
However, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said shortly before the vote that it had initiated it.
Islamophobia or Politics?
Kaufbeuren’s Mayor Stefan Bosse (CSU) believes that: “the discussion here was massively overlaid by larger issues such as relations with Turkey and migration problems.”
“If DITIB now decides to build the mosque privately, then the municipality will no longer have any influence — there is a missed opportunity,” he explained.
Muslims in Kaufbeuren, though, reported that they had received a lot of support from their neighbors and local churches.
The German national census of 2011, found that 1.9% of Germany’s population are Muslims. An estimate in 2015 calculated that there are 4.7 million Muslims in Germany (5.4–5.7% of the population).
According to the direct democracy NGO ‘More Democracy’: “there has been only one other referendum before in Germany on building a mosque. In 2002, a majority in Schlüchtern, Hesse voted in favor of construction.”