Turkish Muslims in Germany anxious over threats to mosques

Turkish Muslims in Germany anxious over threats to mosques

Mosques across Germany are facing an increase in vandalism, harassment and threats, which is a growing cause for alarm among the country’s Muslim community.
More mosques have received threatening letters in recent weeks, signed with the neo-Nazi alias “NSU 2.0.,” Kemal Ergun, president of the Turkish-Muslim group IGMG, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday.
“We will not get scared, we will not be intimated by such threats but it’s disappointing that in most of the arson attempts on mosques, which could claim many lives, the perpetrators were not identified or arrested,” he said.
“NSU 2.0” refers to the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi terrorist group uncovered in 2011 that murdered 10 people and carried out bomb attacks targeting Turkish and Muslim immigrants.
According to official statistics, there were 124 attacks on Muslims in the first three months of 2023, including verbal and physical assaults, threatening letters and arson attacks targeting mosques.
In May, a mosque in central Goettingen city received a letter containing racist and Islamophobic language from the NSU.
Last month, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) said a Quran was burned and thrown from a moving vehicle in front of a mosque in southwestern Germany.
Ergun has called on authorities to thoroughly investigate such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. He also called for a stronger stance against anti-Muslim hatred and right-wing extremism.
“Unfortunately, racism is a reality in Germany. The latest polls show that the racist and fascist political party (the AfD) has become the second-biggest party in the country. This alone shows that we are heading toward a dangerous period,” he said.
A new poll last week placed the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in second place, ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats.
Burhan Kesici, the chairperson of the Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany, told AA that politicians from democratic parties should stand up to right-wing populism and counter their Islamophobic messages.
“We expect political authorities to extend their support to the Muslim community. They should underline in their public speeches that Muslims are part of this country, and they’re not a threat to our society,” he said.
Kesici also proposed stronger security measures by police to protect mosques and Islamic institutions.
In recent years, Germany has witnessed growing racism and Islamophobia, fueled by the propaganda of neo-Nazi groups and the far-right AfD, which exploited the refugee crisis and attempted to instill immigrants fear.
Germany has been recording Islamophobic crimes separately since 2017. In 2018, there were 910 incidents, including 48 attacks on mosques alone, a little lower than 2017’s 1,095 crimes.
In 2019, some 871 attacks targeted the Muslim community in Germany.
Notably in 2020, far-right extremist Tobias Rathjen attacked two cafes in the city of Hanau, killing nine young people and injuring five others. All the victims had migrant backgrounds, four of whom were Turks.
Every other day throughout the course of 2019, a mosque, a Muslim institution or a religious representative in Germany was targeted in anti-Muslim attacks. More than 90% of these were attributed to politically motivated crimes by the far-right.
Some 62 mosques were attacked between January and December last year, and at least 39 people were injured because of anti-Muslim violence.
With a population of over 84 million people, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country’s nearly 5.3 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish descent.
In 2021, Türkiye’s public broadcaster TRT’s German branch too was targeted several times with similarly anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish letters by the racist Prinz Eugen Group, which carries the name of a notorious military group that was among SS soldiers during the Nazi era.
The Turkish community in the rest of Europe is also concerned with the rising trend of Islamophobia and Turkophobia in Western countries. They, including officials in Ankara, have repeatedly called on European states to escalate measures against hate crimes.
Most recently in 2023, several incidents where far-right politicians and activists torched copies of the Quran in front of mosques or embassies of Muslim countries like Türkiye and Iraq, have sparked outrage and concern worldwide.
The Muslim world, including Türkiye, has since condemned the authorization of the demonstrations under freedom of speech laws as “enabling what ultimately constitutes a hate crime” but the governments of countries where the burnings took place are yet to take action.


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