Far-right extremists threatened a Turkish mosque in Berlin, claiming they planted plastic explosives in the mosque complex.
On Monday 26 November, Şehitlik Mosque received an e-mail from email@example.com, signed by Combat 18, a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation.
The mosque belongs to Turkish-Muslim body DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs) and is located near to Neukölln and Kreuzberg, where most of the city’s Turkish residents live. It is one of the largest mosques used by Turks, and is especially popular for Friday prayers.
The mosque has received bomb warnings several times over the past few months.
Turkish Consul General to Berlin, Rıfkı Olgun Yücekök said the police has been informed about the situation and he urged German authorities to take stronger measures to protect mosques: “This is a hoax, but still it’s an attempt to disrupt peace.”
Just a few days before this incident, another Turkish mosque in North Rhine-Westphalia was also threatened. Menden Yeşil Mosque received an anonymous letter saying ‘foreigners should bugger off by 31 December 2019’.
With the rise of the far right in Germany, Islamophobic crimes have also increased in recent years. A slight fall was recorded in 2018, down from 960 to 813 in the previous year. However, this number is seen as conservative by many:
“Run-of-the-mill attacks, insults and discrimination … are not even recorded,” said Ulla Jelpke, Die Linke’s (Left Party) domestic affairs spokesperson, in the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament), according to a news report by Deutsche Welle (DW).
Mosques in the country are increasingly under attack from hate crimes, with Turkish mosques seemingly bearing the brunt of these. Many have reported receiving threatening letters and emails insulting their Islamic values. Others have been sent bullets, while pigs’ heads have also been left at mosques in different cities. Several mosques suffered arson attacks, including Hagen’s Ulu Mosque in May.
German Muslims are now demanding an Islamophobia Commissioner to tackle the crimes, on a par with the anti-Semitism commission that was created last year, Abdassamad El Yazidi, Secretary-General of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) told DW:
“We reject any part of German society being threatened, be they Jews, Muslims, blacks, women or homosexuals.”
After France, Germany has Europe’s second largest Muslim population, with nearly 5 million Muslims. Of these, 3 million are of Turkish origin.
Main photo, top: Berlin Şehitlik Mosque, 2014 © Zairon / Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 4.0]