Worldwide attention for the project

The building still only exists as a model. But international partnerships have been running for a long time. There is a regular exchange to Bangui in the Central African Republic, where Christians and Muslims are planning a similar religious house. Talks are also being held with an academy in Tbilisi, Georgia, and with the Technical University of Haifa on a "Garden of One" in the Israeli port city. Imam Kadir Sanchi spoke of local and national, but also international aspects of the "House of One".

Khorchide expressed his conviction that Berlin's religious coexistence could also strengthen dialogue-oriented forces on the Arab peninsula. According to Hamideh Mohagheghi, the Tehran-born religious scholar from Paderborn, projects like the "House of One" offer "indispensable spaces and ideas for cooperation between religions and world views."

The most prominent political representative on the committee is former German President Christian Wulff. He coined the phrase ten years ago that Islam belongs to Germany. Now he emphasised the importance of the Berlin concept that "no religion lose any of its claim and value", adding that the focus was nevertheless on finding common ground, not about what separates us.

Former President of Germany Christian Wulff (photo: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Stratenschulte)
Former German President Christian Wulff is the most prominent political representative on the committee. He coined the phrase ten years ago that Islam belongs to Germany. Now he emphasised the importance of the Berlin concept that "no religion lose any of its claim and value", adding that the focus was nevertheless on finding common ground, not about what separates us. At the same time he referred to the Pontiff's encyclical "Fratelli Tutti". According to the Pope, it was the first encyclical letter ever to have been inspired by a Muslim, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Ahmed al-Tayyeb

The ex-president and the Pope

Wulff, who was a guest of Pope Francis in the Vatican barely two weeks ago, at the same time promoted the Pontiff's encyclical "Fratelli Tutti", which essentially deals with the relationship between the world religions. According to the Pope, it was the first encyclical letter ever to have been inspired by a Muslim, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Ahmed al-Tayyeb.

The Catholic Wulff looked back on his own childhood. "As a small boy, one had the feeling that God loved Catholics a little more." Now the Pope said "surprisingly for many Catholics, God feels the same love for every person", regardless of religion.

With the construction work in progress, the initiators hope to see increased interest in the city and more international connections. The foundation stone for the new building on old ruins is to be officially laid at the end of next May.

Horror after the attack in Vienna

On the next morning, the day after the terror of Vienna. Rabbi Nachama and Imam Sanci, two of the three founders of the "House of One", spoke to Deutsche Welle. Nachama called the event a "lament" and then referred to the news situation, which remained unclear until late into the night: For a long time it was uncertain "whether it was a jihadist or an extreme right-wing attack" on the synagogue or the city centre. "It's crazy, but jihadist and right-wing extremist terror are the same in terms of the sequence of events. Both have the same goal: to attack free societies.

Looking back at the attacks of the past weeks in Dresden, Paris and Nice, Sanci expressed his dismay. "We can't find words and need a few minutes. Moments of silence. Then we find ourselves together." The common prayer is also a way of "shouting out against these inhuman deeds."

Mosques, synagogues, churches are places of worship, they are inviolable and must be protected, he says. "Every single person is also a house of God. He is untouchable, regardless of religion or worldview." For him the latest attacks, now in Vienna, were "attacks on God. What a contradiction: in the name of God people attack God."

Christoph Strack

© Deutsche Welle 2020

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