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2009-12-07 - High Administrative Court of Lower Saxony, n. 1 LA 255/08

Public space · Germany · Mosque · Place of worship

A Muslim place of worship can be inadmissible in a pure residential area if its typical effects on the neighborhood at night contradict the character of the area

Key facts of the case - A Muslim community applied for a building permit for the enlargement of a building that it wanted to use as mosque and community center. The permit was refused. The building authorities stated that because the mosque should also be used at night for the prayers and because a lot of traffic to and from the mosque was expected at night, the project is not compatible with the residential character of the area.

Main reasoning of the court - Although religious buildings can generally be permitted in residential areas, the Court found that the mosque does not fit in the area and that therefore the building permit is to be refused. The claimant could not prove sufficiently that there would only be few people who were going to pray at night and that there would therefore be only little traffic at night. Since the Evening Prayer and the Morning Prayer are to be said between 22 p.m. and 6 a.m. on about 220 days per year, the impact the noise of the nocturnal traffic has on the residents, is too big. When considering the Muslims interest in having that mosque, which is protected by the freedom of faith (Art. 4 Basic Law) and the residents’ right to a night’s sleep, the residents’ right prevails over the community’s religious freedom.