It's a controversial property, and it looks like it's going to stay that way: part of the so-called herold-haus in the haingebiet is facing a possible conversion into a mosque for up to 200 people. This development was confirmed by the owner of the former office building, EM muller immobilien gmbh, when asked. According to horst-peter muller, a building application has recently been submitted to the city for approval of the necessary change of use.
Muller wants to use the building as an islamic cultural center to mitigate the damage that he believes has already grown to 42,000 euros due to the property's vacancy. He blames the city for this. At the end of 2016, the city council imposed a ban on development in the ottostrabe area in order to prevent muller's plans to use the building for a hotel and so-called city apartments – the "destruction of living space", how it hieb.
But muller won't take no for an answer from city hall: the herold house and its use are now the subject of several lawsuits and could keep the judiciary busy for years to come. If muller is to be believed, the city is threatened with six-figure compensation payments.
As long as the dispute smolders, the roughly glazed office building could provide valuable services as a prayer and meeting space for the arab muslim community. Hassan mamo, the 30-year-old syrian chairman of the arab cultural association, was buried the. For the group of arabic-speaking muslim believers coming from many countries, he has for some time been looking for spaces that the association can afford and that are available as quickly as possible. In addition to the otto street, there are also offers in the juden and podeldorfer streets. A mosque does not mean a minaret, he says in response to people's concerns: "we simply need more space for our friday prayers and to be able to celebrate ramadan."
"Accepting instead of excluding
City councillor christiane laaser has been looking after arab refugees for years on a voluntary basis, among others. She leaves no doubt that a mosque is important. "The muslims must feel that they are not excluded but accepted. The alternative was backyard mosques." She knows: the number of arab muslims living in bamberg, including nearly 1,000 syrians, has multiplied in recent years and continues to rise sharply due to new family arrivals and a high birth rate. As a result, the prayer rooms currently used by the arab community in gonnerstrabe are bursting at the seams.
But how realistic is the conversion of the offices in the herold house into a mosque and when could it come?? Claus reinhardt from the building department admits that facilities for church purposes are permitted in general residential areas according to the building use ordinance. But this is not an automatism: "what is important is that such facilities are contractual and that their operation is considerate", especially since a mosque has a supra-local character. "This may result in a case of inadmissibility", says reinhardt.
Pressure on the city?
The mosque proposal does not leave the city leaders cold either. CSU faction leader helmut muller speaks of a "return carriage" to argue with the city. Mayor andreas stark (SPD) also fears that the reactions of the population could lead to a more positive view of the originally rejected uses, hotel and apartments: "it is a pity when such a serious matter as the construction of a mosque is used to exert pressure." The original mullers project is called a "monstrous project".
But is that really so? Daniela reinfelder (bub) was the only city councilor who voted against the ban on changes at the end of 2016. Even today, she is of the opinion that it was wrong for the city to have advised the investor and, to a certain extent, to have let him run into a dead end. For them, city apartments are just another and "very sought-after form of housing" for employees of companies who want to stay in bamberg for a certain time but do not want to live in hotels. Reinfelder also has nothing against a mosque, if it proves to be permissible: "we have freedom of religion in germany."