Christianity’s waning relevance in modern Europe is well documented. But even as church pews remain empty, there is an odd twist unfolding in Cologne, a city rich in Catholic history, where a new mosque is being built amidst the whiff of an ancient conspiracy theory.

The details are these. The architect of a near-completed mosque was fired by his client, the Turkish Islamic association DITIB. One of the reasons given was that he had hidden Christian symbols in the building – little crosses, for example, or “Chi-Rho” (XP), the Greek monogram for Christ.

And what was the first reaction of the local press? It sided with the architect. As the supposed symbols couldn’t be found on the plans, the accusations were deemed groundless and any suggestion of conspiracy brushed aside.

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