By Oliver Towfigh Nia
BERLIN (AA) – Germany's Muslim community is "not feeling safe enough" amid the country's growing Islamophobia, a German Muslim leader told Anadolu Agency in Berlin on Friday.
"This year we had more than 80 attacks on mosque communities in Germany. The security situation is very tense. Muslims are not feeling safe enough. Talks with security authorities have shown that no sufficient concept exists and, above all, it is so that we as Muslims are not being sufficiently advised," said Burhan Kesici, the chairman of the Berlin-based Islam Council.
"Security authorities need to definitely work closer with the communities, develop concepts and provide advice [to them]. Otherwise, Muslims lose confidence in the security agencies, because protection is simply being blurred," he added.
Kesici's remarks came only a day after police were forced to evacuate a mosque in the western German city of Cologne on Thursday following a bomb threat.
Asked by Anadolu Agency about a reaction to the latest bomb threat against the mosque, Interior Ministry Spokesman Steve Alter said: "The minister has repeatedly expressed concern about attacks on religious institutions in recent weeks."
Following a thorough search at the Cologne Central Mosque complex with special teams and bomb-sniffing dogs, police found no bomb and determined the threat was a hoax.
It was the second time in four months that the Turkish-Muslim umbrella group DITIB, which runs the mosque, had been threatened with a bomb attack.
The mosque complex in Cologne also houses the headquarters of DITIB.
In June, a bomb threat, apparently emailed by a far-right organization, had also forced the evacuation of visitors and staff at the mosque complex, however it also turned out to be hoax.
Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia in recent years sparked by hate propaganda of far-right parties.
More than 100 mosques and religious institutions were attacked by by far-right extremists in 2018.
Police recorded 813 hate crimes against Muslims last year, including verbal insults, threatening letters and physical attacks which led to the injury of at least 54 Muslims.
A country of over 81 million people, Germany is home to the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France.
Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, at least three million are of Turkish origin.