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EUROPE > Germany’s Gauck gives unity message

BERLIN - Anatolia News Agency

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German President Gauck (2nd R) listens to imam in a mosque in Berlin. AA photo

German President Gauck (2nd R) listens to imam in a mosque in Berlin. AA photo

Turkey and Germany could be strangers culturally, but there are many things keeping the two countries together, German President Joachim Gauck said during his visit to the Turkish Şehitlik Mosque in Berlin.

It was Gauck’s first visit to a mosque as German president. Alongside with his partner Daniela Schadt and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, Gauck was welcomed by the head of the mosque’s foundation Ender Çetin, foundation board member, Yasemin Bağcı and the religious service attaché of the Turkish Consul General of Berlin Hasan Hayrı Yaşar.

“We may be strangers culturally, but we have many things keeping us together,” Gauck said. “I am here because of my heart. Not because of what others have said, but by my own heart. That message is received,” he said in response to questions on why it is important to him to visit a mosque.

Gauck also said he was pleased to see the youth associated with the mosque treating Berlin as “their own country” and that he was committed to the attitude represented by Germany’s previous President Christian Wulff. Wulff had stated during his term that Islam “belonged to Germany.”

Çetin said that while not using the exact words of the previous president, Gauck, too, had made his sentiments known. “We heard from Gauck that we are clearly a part of this society,” Çetin told reporters.
During the visit, Gauck was given a 60-page text detailing the Muslim people’s political and social situation in Germany. Çetin also said the president wanted Muslims to improve their internal dialog for getting religious community status for Islam.

October/24/2012

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