German Muslims called on the government to protect mosques amid the growing threat of attacks and the development of Islamophobia. According to Joachim Paul, AfD leader in Rhineland-Palatinate, the rise in crime could have been caused by the refugee crisis that began in 2015.
The German Coordination Council of Muslims, uniting four Islamic organizations of the country, expressed concern over the apparent surge of anti-Muslim attacks in the country, urging official Berlin to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of mosques and Muslims in the country.
On July 18, the Hurriyet newspaper reported with reference to the Turkish Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), one of Germany’s largest Islamic organizations, that in just 10 days at least six DITIB mosques and one Arab mosque were attacked.
“Muslims and Muslim prayer houses need the protection of the state more than ever, and rightly expect symbolic help from leading German government and opposition politicians,” the organization said in a statement.
According to the German Interior Ministry, in 2018, at least 813 anti-Islamic crimes against Muslims and mosques were registered in the country, while the 2017 ministry data indicate 950 similar crimes. Germany has the second largest Muslim population in Western Europe, with about 5 million people.
“The state is obliged to protect the lives and rights of every German citizen, despite his age, gender, sexual orientation and, of course, religion,” said Paul, MEP and deputy leader of the Alternative for Germany party in Rhineland-Palatinate.
“If mosques or Muslims are attacked, the duty is to protect from going to the police. But I think that it is wrong to demand a policy that aims to promote tolerance only towards Muslims. It is equally important to increase tolerance among Muslims,” he stated.
Paul believes it is important to look at the bigger picture and keep in mind that the recent rise in anti-Muslim attacks in Germany was preceded by a series of attacks by immigrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa against the backdrop of the refugee crisis that erupted in 2015.
Since mid-2015, more than 1.5 million migrants have entered the country, helped by the open borders of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A report by the Federal Criminal Investigation Department of Germany, published in May 2018, shed light on a growing number of criminal acts, including sexual offenses, assault, theft, murder and other crimes committed by migrants from the Middle East and North Africa from 2015 to 2017 .
According to the report, in 2017, 4,852 migrants were suspected of involvement in sexual offenses, compared with 3,329 in 2016.
“In addition, over the past few years, several terrorist acts have been committed by Islamists in Germany and Europe. It can be concluded that certain parts of Muslim society do not want to integrate into Western societies. Instead, they want to turn our society into something that is consistent with their beliefs, ”the German politician noted.
Stressing that “integration is always an obligation,” the German MEP notes that “it is important to distinguish between Muslims who want to integrate more closely and those who intend to live in parallel existence, rather than outline a new, more active concept of German citizenship.”