German Muslims call for commissioner to combat mounting Islamophobia

30th Aug 2019

Elham Asaad Buaras

One of Germany’s largest Muslim groups has called on the Government to set up a new post to counter the growing Islamophobia in the country similar to one created to combat anti-Semitism.

The Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland (ZMD) which has over 20,000 members proposed the appointment of an Islamophobia commissioner on August 7.

“We have seen the importance of such a post after the Federal Government appointed a commissioner to combat anti-Semitism,” said ZMD President, Aiman Mazyek.

Mazyek said that the appointment of an Islamophobia commissioner would be an important signal, and authorities would become more sensitive about anti-Muslim crimes.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition Government created an office last year for a Federal Commissioner to fight against anti-Semitism, following calls by Jewish organisations.

Despite growing calls for a similar post to address concerns of the Muslim community, the Government had so far been reluctant.

Mazyek said growing anti-Muslim propaganda in the country has reached worrying levels in recent months, as more than 20 mosques received bomb threats in July.

“One who is against Muslims or other minorities is threatening us all in a free, democratic country. It is crucial that society recognises this,” he stressed.

Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia and hatred of migrants in recent years triggered by the far-right parties and movements, which have exploited fears over the refugee crisis and terrorism.

Police recorded 813 hate crimes against Muslims last year, including insults, threatening letters, physical assaults and attacks against mosques.

And according to Interior Ministry figures 1,075 anti-Muslim hate crimes were recorded and 239 mosques were attacked in 2017. While data for 2018 is not yet available, preliminary figures show that more people were injured than in the previous year. The figures, published on request of Germany’s Left party, reveal that between January and September 2018, 40 people were injured in anti-Muslim attacks. In 2017, there had been 27 such incidents within that same time period, and 32 attacks over the course of the entire year.

Germany, a country of over 81 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in western Europe after France. Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish descent. Many Germans of Turkish descent are second and third-generation descendants of Turkish immigrants who moved to the country during the 1960s.

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