The next German Unity Day on October 3, 2013, will see a grand namaz prayer in the former Lutheran church of Kapernaumkirche in Hamburg as a further sign of integration of local Muslims into the German and European society. It's not the first instance of Hamburg's surprising religious tolerance. Earlier, many eyebrows were raised at the news that the Nour Islamic Center religious society bought a Hamburg Lutheran church.
The deal became possible because the number of parishioners had slumped dramatically in recent years. No one actually needed the church any more. Even so, some media outlets have questioned the legality of the deal.
Daniel Abdin, the press secretary of the Hamburg Islamic Community, complained to the Voice of Russia that in the past couple of years the German mass media had been deliberately portraying Muslims in a sharply negative way. "We have never sought to occupy a church. That was not our purpose. For 20 years we've been praying in an underground garage, and for 8 years we've been looking for a prayer house. I understand the fears that stem from a lack of ties with Muslims. And I think that our task is to promote dialogue. The church in question is half-ruined, but it will be fully restored to its original architecture as a church monument protected by the state".