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Anti-Muslim hate crime on the rise in Germany

29th Sep 2017

Elham Asaad Buaras

Germany’s Interior Ministry has revealed that anti-Muslim hate crimes in the country surged significantly in the second quarter of this year.

At least 16 Muslims were injured in anti-Muslim hate crimes between April and June, up from two incidents in the first quarter. In the second quarter, German police recorded 192 Anti-Muslim hate crimes, only one of which resulted in an arrest – a fact Muslim advocate group Millî Görüş (IGMG) branded “unacceptable.”

IGMG Secretary-General, Bekir Altaş said in a statement, “The legal deterrent effect is virtually zero. Islamophobia must be fought decisively.”

Altaş also called the figures “frighteningly high,” and a “clear alarm signal” to German leaders. “Lawmakers are urgently called on to take appropriate measures.”

Altaş also said that the real number of crimes was likely to be far greater, as most of them went unreported. “Muslims often get the feeling from the police that their concerns are not taken seriously, in many cases, an Islamophobic motivation is not even ascertained – even when there is clear evidence. Here too, the lawmakers need to set investigative standards.”

Triggered by far-right and populist propaganda, Germany’s 4.7 million Muslims have endured a rise in Islamophobia and xenophobia.

The Left Party warned that Muslims are now facing a more serious threat as far-right groups are not hesitating to use violence.

Civil rights activist Taner Aksoy argues that anti-Muslims hatred has “always existed” in Germany but that it “previously, was just ‘xenophobia’ anti-Muslim hate did not arise suddenly (overnight). Rather, a transformation has taken place in the debate about migrants. After the turn of the millennium, the national debate shifted from ethnic issues to religion. Turks and Arabs are now seen as Muslims.”

He adds, “Over the past few years, an anti-Muslim attitude has emerged worldwide, reinforced by certain global events: attacks carried out in the name of Islam; the negative portrayal of Islam in the media; the rise of a ‘new right-wing’ movement across Germany; anti-Muslim campaigns have hit the streets and all this feeds Islamophobia in Germany.”

Left Party lawmaker Martina Renner accused far-right populist movements and parties of encouraging hate crimes with their rhetoric. “The rise in anti-Muslim crimes is part of a general shift to the right which is being expressed as well as strengthened by the parties like the AfD,” said Renner.

The far-right nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD), has adopted explicitly anti-Islamic rhetoric since the European refugee crisis began in 2015 when more than 800,000 mostly Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq arrived in Germany.

The AfD’s top candidate, Alexander Gauland, said that “Islam as a cultural, religious entity has no place in Germany.”

The party is currently polling around eight percent in German opinion polls. Parties need to achieve a 5 percent threshold of the vote to enter the Bundestag or German Parliament.

A study by the Bertelsmann Foundation in 2015 showed that 57 percent of non-Muslim Germans perceived Islam as a threat while 61 percent said Islam was not compatible with Western society.

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