28 October 2010

Seen from the outside, other than a sign on a wooden door, nothing seems to indicate that the Eyüp Sultan Camii in Graz is a mosque. The local imam, Fevzi Karatas, explains that a mosque is simply a space for prayer, and “in the time of the prophet Muhammad, the mosque was a tent.”
Karatas comes from Vorarlberg, though his parents are from Turkey, where he also studied theology and statistics before returning to become an imam in 2000. In his opinion there are no tensions, either with the local community or the authorities. However, in order to fight the fear that some people have of Islam they open the doors three times a year and invite the neighbors. “We are a part of Graz, we aren’t foreigners, we aren’t extremists, we pay taxes and just want to be practice our religion.”
After prayer the canteen serves kebab and ayran – “many people come here not just to pray, but to talk as well,” says Karatas.

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