A mosque in the central German city of Duisburg has received a threatening letter filled with racist imagery, a religious official has said.
The Duisburg Central Mosque, affiliated with the Turkish-Muslim umbrella group DITIB, reported that the letter contained a swastika symbol and the phrase ‘NSU 2.0’, a reference to a neo-Nazi group known for a series of murders.
The mosque promptly shared the letter with the police and filed a criminal complaint. Yusuf Aydin, the head of the DITIB Central Mosque Association, expressed deep sadness over the incident and demanded the swift apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators.
With over 84 million people, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. It is home to nearly five million Muslims, according to official figures.
Germany is also home to an estimated 3.5 million people of Turkish origin, the largest in Europe.
Aydin noted that this was not the first time the mosque had received threatening and insulting letters, with over a dozen incidents reported in the past.
In a separate incident, the DITIB Press Office reported that a Turkish flag displayed at the Selimiye Mosque in Bremen was damaged by an individual identified as a supporter of the terrorist organisation PKK.
The incident occurred during a weekend bazaar when Turkish, German, and DITIB flags were hung on the mosque's wall. The attacker specifically targeted the Turkish flag, tearing it down and fleeing the scene.
Hidayet Tekin, the head of the Bremen Selimiye Mosque Association, expressed concern over the attacker's affiliation with the PKK and emphasised the importance of ensuring the mosque's security.
Tekin further mentioned that the attacker had shared footage of the attack on social media, showing the burning and trampling of the Turkish flag in a parking area.
There has been a concerning rise in anti-Muslim hatred and attacks, posing a significant threat to the Muslim community residing in the country.
Disturbingly, many of these cases have gone unnoticed or insufficiently investigated, exacerbating the challenges faced by Muslim individuals and families.
Over 800 mosque attacks since 2014
A recent report by Brandeilig, an initiative of rights group FAIR International, has shed light on the growing threats and attacks targeting mosques in Germany.
However, the majority of these crimes have not been adequately investigated, leaving many perpetrators unidentified and contributing to an alarming cycle of further attacks on Muslim worship sites.
Brandeilig, which established Germany's first reporting centre for attacks on mosques, meticulously documented approximately 840 incidents between 2014 and 2022. The findings from a detailed analysis conducted in 2018 revealed that only nine out of the 120 recorded attacks had identifiable perpetrators.
This lack of identification and subsequent impunity not only exacerbates the vulnerability of Muslim communities but also emboldens neo-Nazis and left-wing extremists to continue targeting mosques.
The incidents in Duisburg and Bremen highlight the ongoing challenges mosques face in Germany.
According to a recent report released by the DITIB, at least 35 mosques were targeted in attacks in 2022, with the majority of these attacks motivated by Islamophobia and right-wing extremism.
The DITIB's anti-discrimination office recently released a 32-page report analysing hate crimes, threats, and attacks targeting mosques and Islamic organisations in Germany in 2022.
According to the DITIB experts, the anti-Muslim violence was closely related to social and political developments, along with public debates surrounding immigrants, Muslims, and Islam.
“Polarising and unobjective debates, an increase in stigmatising (especially demonisation of Muslims), are leading to an increase in attacks targeting mosques,” the experts wrote in their report.
Far-right groups and parties have exploited the refugee issue and propagated anti-immigrant sentiments, fueling these negative attitudes.