‘Islamophobia in Germany underreported because Muslims distrust authorities’

World
Thu, 22 Jun 2023 9:37 GMT
Political rhetoric fueling distrust among Muslims and rise in anti-Muslim hostility, says head of Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany.
‘Islamophobia in Germany underreported because Muslims distrust authorities’

Political rhetoric fueling distrust among Muslims and rise in anti-Muslim hostility, says head of Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany.

The number of unreported Islamophobic attacks in Germany is becoming much higher due to a growing distrust of authorities, a Muslim community leader in the capital Berlin has warned.

There were 124 attacks on Muslims and mosques across Germany in just the first 90 days of 2023, an alarming average of more than one a day, according to figures revealed during a parliamentary question-and-answer session last month.

The numbers include cases of intimidation, as well as vandalism and damage to other properties.

There were two arson attacks at mosques in the cities of Hannover and Dresden in May, sparking renewed calls for stricter measures to protect the Muslim community.

“The number of attacks against mosques has increased in the past few months … and we assume that the number of unreported cases is much higher,” Burhan Kesici, chairman of the Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany, told Anadolu.

“Many Muslims do not report incidents of Islamophobia because such acts are not clearly defined or because they do not trust (the authorities). So, we assume the number of unreported cases is much higher.”

Another problem Kesici pointed out is that “sometimes attacks against mosques are not listed under the category of Islamophobic attacks.”

“They are registered in other categories, for example as just arson attacks, so one needs to take a closer look at these statistics,” he said.

Criticism or anti-Muslim hostility?

After France, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe. The country of over 84 million people is home to nearly 5 million Muslims, according to official figures.

Data for 2022 shows German police registered at least 610 Islamophobic hate crimes, including attacks on 62 mosques, between January and December, with at least 39 people injured in anti-Muslim violence.

In 2021, there were at least 662 Islamophobic crimes, including attacks on some 46 mosques, and at least 17 people were injured.

Interior Ministry figures for 2020 showed more than 900 Islamophobic hate crimes were recorded across Germany that year, with nearly 80 mosques attacked and at least 48 people wounded.

The attacks were mostly carried out by neo-Nazi and right-wing extremist groups, according to police.

The growing Islamophobia threat in Germany also ties in with a surge in support for far-right political forces.

A new poll last week placed the far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party in second place, ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats for the first time since the 2021 elections.

In such an environment, hateful comments from politicians are further fueling anti-Muslim hostility in Germany, Kesici asserted.

“I do not think that authorities are doing enough (against Islamophobia). They must give a message underlining that Muslims belong to this country and enrich our society. They must take stronger action against anti-Muslim hostility,” he said.

At a conference last December, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser promised just that, vowing resolute measures to combat Islamophobia.

Speaking at the German Islam Conference, a forum for dialogue between authorities and representatives of the Muslim community, she acknowledged that “many people face racism each and every day in Germany.”

Muslims experience double racism. They are often facing hostility and rejection as members of the Islamic religion, but also as people with immigration background,” she said.

Kesici said the Muslim community expects “politicians to counter Islamophobic sentiments in the first place.”

“If someone starts disseminating anti-Muslim hatred, one should intervene and counter this. But, unfortunately, what we see is that in politics, and also in society, what is often presented as ‘criticism of Islam’ is actually anti-Muslim hostility,” he said.

AA

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