Germany's Muslims demand protection at mosques

Last Modified Wednesday, 19 February 2020 (17:18 IST)
Police in last week said it uncovered right-wing terrorists who were plotting to attack and asylum-seekers. Islamic groups are calling on the government to do more to protect them.
Muslim groups in Germany have called on the government to do more to protect mosques, after a dozen members of a right-wing terror cell were arrested on Friday.
 
The extremist group was planning attacks on politicians, asylum-seekers and Muslims.
 
"The state must have an interest" in protecting communities, said Aiman Mazyek, chair of the central council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), in an interview with German magazine der Spiegel.
 
Calls for police presence
 
He called for "a visible police presence at mosques where past attacks and assaults had taken place, above all during busy times, such as during Friday prayers."
 
"We should not have to use private security companies to protect our mosque communities and lead talks to provide instruction on what to do if there is an attack," added Mazyek.
 
ZMD said the state has the duty to provide for the safety of its citizens, adding that "Muslims also belong to this group,"a spokesperson for the ZMD in Cologne said on Monday.
 
Around 100 attacks on mosques are registered each year, according to DITIB, the largest German mosque association. In the past weeks, mosques in Unna, Hagen, Essen and Bielefeld received emails threatening bomb attacks.
 
'Tacit consent' for attacks
 
DITIB, which also has close links to Turkey, said both politicians and society must take a clear stand against violence on Germany's Muslim community.
 
The "silence of the majority, including in both politics and society when it comes to attacks on Muslims could be taken as "tacit consent."
 
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on Monday said: "It is the task of the state, and of course of this government, to protect the free practice of religion in this country, no matter what religion it is."
 
Police protection in Germany is decided on a state-by-state basis.
 
Saxony-Anhalt state officials faced strong criticism in the wake of the deadly attack in Halle in October 2019, in which a gunman targeted a synagogue on Judaism's holiest day, Yom Kippur. There was no police presence at the synagogue during the attack, prompting Jewish groups to renew calls for better police protection at Jewish institutions.
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