Lawyer and human rights activist Seyran Ateş, who was born in Turkey, has been on a recent visit to London to search for a site to open up the world’s second ‘liberal mosque’.
After having founded the first one in Berlin - the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque - in June this year, feminist activist Ateş received ‘countless death threats’, as she puts it, as well as, fatwas by conservative Islamists from Europe, Egypt, and Turkey against her ‘movement’, which she says is a ‘revolution in Islam’.
While the creation of the mosque was condemned by Egypt’s state institution Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah, Turkey’s Diyanet (Presidency of Religion Affairs) claimed its practices did not ‘align with Islam's fundamental resources, principles of worship, methodology or experience of more than 14 centuries, and are experiments aimed at nothing more than depraving and ruining religion".
Diyanet also claimed the movement was a project of the self-exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who has been alleged to be the mastermind behind the coup attempt in Turkey.
Ateş told The Guardian: “I’m not alone with this idea. It is a movement, it’s a revolution.”
“I may be the face of the liberal mosque, but I alone am not the mosque. We have millions of supporters all over the world”, she said about the movement whose leaders spent eight years in efforts to establish the first liberal mosque in Berlin.
From this point on, however, it will be easier to proceed, Ateş says, and expresses her aim to create liberal mosques in all capital cities in Europe.
Mentioning there are millions of liberal and secular Muslims across the world who feel ‘squeezed out by radical Islam’, Ateş says the liberal mosque is a place of worship embracing women, men, and LGBT individuals on equal grounds.
Also a tough critic of Islamic headscarves, Ateş sees sharia as a ‘war against women’s rights’ and says, about the hijab: “There is no Islamic requirement [to cover one’s head]. There is no theological argument even in the most conservative interpretation of the Koran”.
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