Imams and rabbis to bike together in Berlin tolerance ride

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
BERLIN
Published

Imams and rabbis are set to share tandem bicycles on Sunday in a mass demonstration appealing for tolerance in Germany's melting-pot capital Berlin.

Organizers said on Friday that so far they had matched up 10 imams with 10 rabbis for the unusual display of solidarity, which will be accompanied by 1,000 Berlin residents riding their own bicycles on a mass ride to city mosques and synagogues.

The city is sending a platoon of helmeted police on motorcycles to join in. The so-called Cycling Unites rally will begin at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin, home to 3.4 million people, has a large Arab and Turkish minority.

Ferid Heider, who preaches in several Berlin mosques and plans to ride one of the two-seaters with a Jewish counterpart, said he wanted to do something to counter the "tangible" decline in the relationship between Muslims and Jews in Germany.

"There have been these repeated incidents where Jews have been verbally abused or hit because they were wearing the kippa," he said, referring to the skullcap worn by religious Jews.

Heinrich Stroessenreuther, the organizer of the cycle rally, said: "The whole population should be able to live in this city free of fear and discrimination. That's not limited to Jews and Muslims either. So we are going for a ride to say so."

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