Berlin (dpa) – Scattered protests Tuesday accompanied a ground-breaking ceremony for the first-ever mosque in what used to be Communist East Berlin.
The two-storey building with a 12-metre-tall minaret is being built for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community on a former industrial site in the suburb of Heinersdorf.
The mosque, which will be able to accommodate 500 worshippers, was expected to be completed by the end of year, said the chairman of the sect’s Berlin branch, Abdul Basit Tariq.
Around 50 protesters were at the ceremony, some carrying placards reading, ‘No Mosque.’ Police evicted three left-wing demonstrators after a scuffle over a placard in support of the mosque.
Residents of Heinersdorf have been protesting for months against the planned mosque, arguing that the sect had no members living anywhere near the site.
The Muslim group said it had been looking to build a new mosque because it had outgrown its present community centre in the west Berlin suburb of Reinickendorf.
The Ahmadiyya community was founded at the end of the 19th century in what was then British India. It claims to represent the latter day renaissance of Islam.
The sect, which is classed as peaceful by the German domestic intelligence service, has 200 members in Berlin and operates more than a dozen mosques in Germany.
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