BERLIN – German authorities have registered at least 662 Islamophobic crimes in 2021.
There were more than 46 mosques attacked and at least 17 people were injured because of anti-Muslim violence.
Suleyman Demir, project director at the anti-discrimination group, Inssan, said attacks on Muslims and mosques have seen a rise following the coronavirus pandemic and the situation is serious as Germany is facing economic difficulties.
“The statistics have definitely increased, especially for women who wear a headscarf,” Demir told Anadolu Agency.
“We are also increasingly seeing from our community that not only men, but also women who wear the hijab and niqab are exposed to much more physical attacks, like spitting, and this has actually increased significantly in recent years,” he said.
German authorities recorded 152 Islamophobic attacks, while at least seven people were injured in the first six months of 2022.
But that might not be the full picture because many attacks go unreported.
Demir, who is leading the “Network against discrimination and Islamophobia” project at Inssan, said many Muslims do not report incidents to the police, thinking their complaints will not be taken seriously.
“Sometimes they don't feel heard or seen and that's why they think, ‘Oh, why report it? There won't be any consequences,’” said Demir.
He urged better sensitivity training for police to tackle Islamophobic crimes.
“Police officers are not properly trained. For example, they are trained on transphobia or anti-Semitism, but they are not trained on tackling anti-Muslim crimes,” he said, adding that many incidents of Islamophobia are not properly registered by police in crime statistics.
Demir also warned that far-right groups are trying to exploit the ongoing economic and energy crises to stir fear and hatred against minorities and Muslims.
“It is easy to portray minorities as scapegoats, i.e. as scapegoats for political or economic problems, and the far-right groups naturally use this method to say that these minorities are to be blamed for the major economic crisis. Therefore, I see a connection between rising right-wing extremism, and the economic situation,” he said.
Demir said it is important for Muslims and minorities to be more politically active to strengthen democracy and counter the rise of the far-right.
“There are people from 180 to 200 different nations here, so I assume that Muslims will also feel at home here, especially those who were born here,” he said. “They will take part in democratic decision-making and will, of course, also shape the future in Germany.”
Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France with total inhabitants of more than 84 million.
Among the country’s nearly 5.5 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish origin. (Anadolu)