German Muslims have inundated one of the country’s top soccer teams, Schalke 04, with complaints about a verse in the club’s anthem which, they say, is disparaging towards the Prophet Mohammad.
The club has its home in Gelsenkirchen in Germany’s industrial heartland and immigrants make up about a third of the town’s population. Most of them have a Turkish background. Germany’s biggest mosque was opened in nearby Duisburg last year and many Schalke supporters are Muslims, as chat rooms like this one point out.
The lines in question are: “Mohammad was a Prophet who doesn’t understand football” although the words that follow seem positive: “But from all the beautiful colours he came up with blue and white.” Schalke’s colours are blue and white.
The club, which plays in Germany’s Bundesliga top league and has some of the country’s most ardent fans, is taking the complaints seriously. A spokesman has said Schalke has asked an Islamic expert to analyse the text.
But what is most striking is that the song is not new. Some say it dates back to 1924. So why has it suddenly started to offend Muslims?