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Alte Feuerwache, Cologne

Cologne civic centre gets ‘culture-sensitive’ toilets

Soon to be built in the Alte Feuerwache civic center in Cologne, is a "culture-sensitive" toilet for Muslims, ordered by the state authorities.

Published: August 12, 2017, 10:47 am


    New toilets were going to be installed during the refurbishment of the exhibition hall of the Alte Feuerwache. The planning of the urban building had already been concluded in principle, but was quite “insensitive” without the said squatting toilet.

    A board of the citizens were consulted, and all parties subsequently contractually agreed that such a facility would be included in all the plans.

    These are toilets level with the surface of the ground, on which one squats.

    “Toilets like these correspond to what is typical in Islamic countries,” says Konrad Müller, a member of the civic centre’s governing board.

    “And we want to give people from these countries the feeling that they are at home here.”

    This also includes the option of doing without toilet paper. In Islamic countries, people clean themselves with water, the governing board noted.

    “So a water tube should be installed or a water container at least provided,” according to Müller.  Users wash themselves, using the left hand.

    It is also clear that these toilets must be built in a North-South direction, not an East-West direction. “One does not shit in the direction of Mecca,” Konrad Müller explained somewhat rudely.

    Hans-Georg Lützenkirchen, also CEO of Feuerwache, is looking forward to it. “There is nothing wrong with this, and it has nothing to do with good-humankind because our association has also devoted itself to intercultural learning. And here the local people can learn something about other cultures. ”

    And the toilet is not just reserved for Muslims. The city confirmed the installation of the multicultural toilet to

    In Britain, shoppers complained when a shopping centre unveiled plans for new Muslim-style toilets based on a squat design in 2010.

    The “culturally-sensitive” lavatories at the Exchange Shopping Centre in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, were introduced after executives toured the local mosque’s amenities and took advice from community activist Ghulam Rasul Shahzad.

    A spokesman for Migration WatchUK said: “I think that this is absolutely absurd. Surely when in Rome, the thing is to do as the Romans.”

    Locals were baffled because the centre chose to pander only to a certain ethnic demographic. Shopper Denise Redmond, 46, said: “It is disgusting. My first complaint is I don’t believe they are hygienic and also they are difficult and demeaning.

    “Why do we need specialised loos? They should instead be building more disabled toilets. I bet disabled people will find they are unable to use them,” she told The Express, a British daily.

    Dan Ainslie, 19, said: “Rochdale is changing every day. It is losing its identity. This is another example.”

    Those behind the scheme say the squat toilets will be welcomed by the Asian community because of “cultural reasons”.

    Shahzad, a retired Rochdale Council training officer, runs courses for the police and other organisations about “cultural understanding and community cohesion”.

    A spokeswoman for the centre said: “We regularly receive cultural awareness training from Ghulam and when we were planning the toilets this was something that cropped up.”

    In Australia, senator Pauline Hanson called the Australian Taxation Office’s decision to install squat toilets in its new building in Melbourne “confusing”. “If they don’t know use our toilets….then what the hell is going on?” Hanson wanted to know.

    ATO’s acting chief finance officer Justin Untersteiner spoke to News Corp last year, saying more than 20 percent of ATO employees come from a non-English speaking background.

    “We are committed to maintaining an inclusive workplace that engages, informs and supports all our employees, whatever their background,” he told the Herald Sun.

    But instead of installing squat toilets, many Australian institutions such as Macquarie University display posters on the back of cubicle doors with instructions on how to use a western-style toilet.


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