BERLIN (AA): Germany’s Islamic Council, one of the largest umbrella organisations of Muslims in the country, has expressed grave concern Monday over record number of attacks targeting mosques.
Burhan Kesici, the head of the Islamic Council, said 91 attacks against mosques in 2016 was an indication of growing anti-Muslim sentiment in Germany, and urged government and political leaders to take action and speak out.
“If they tell people that Muslims are not a threat but a part of this society, if they tell people that mosques are places of worship, there will be less animosity towards Islam,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiments last year, triggered by the propaganda of far-right and populist parties, which have exploited fears of the refugee crisis.
91 mosques were attacked in 2016, according to the recent police statistics made public on Monday, which showed a significant increase in anti-Muslim violence. In 2015, 75 such attacks were reported, and in 2014 there were nearly 60 attacks that targeted mosques.
Despite growing number of attacks targeting mosques, the police often failed to identify the assailant.
Among the 91 attacks against mosques in 2016, police could only identify suspects in 12 cases. Currently only one suspect is under arrest.
Kesici criticized authorities for not seriously going after the suspects after attacks targeting mosques, and said this encourages them for further violence.
With a population of 81.8 million, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the four million Muslims in the country, three million are of Turkish origin.
[Archive Photo: Anti Islam PEGIDA demonstration on Patriotic Day, Konigsufer Square in Desden on 6 February 2016: Photographer: Mehmet Kaman/AA]