Racists find common target in Europe: Mosques

Erbil Basay

BERLIN: Although they may have placed themselves on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum, the supporters of the PYD/PKK terror group and racist organizations have found a common target in Europe: mosques. The Islamic houses of worship across Europe have endured dozens of attacks over the past three months as attackers attempted to arson them with Molotov cocktails or spray-painted terror symbols or racist slurs on the walls. Luckily, the attacks caused no casualties.

Germany takes the lead in hate crimes against the mosques as over 30 of them in the country were targeted in such attacks in the first three months of this year — double the figure in the same period last year. Ten out of 31 attacks were perpetrated by far-right groups while remaining 21 assaults were conducted by PKK/PYD supporters as the group threatened to carry out violent acts against a Turkish counterterrorism operation in Afrin, northwestern Syria.

The first attack of 2018 was carried out on Jan. 5 on a mosque of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in Junkerath in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. In the incident, allegedly conducted by far-right groups, an envelope containing a white chalky powder was delivered to the mosque.

The attacks on Jan. 1 on another DITIB mosque in Bad Essen in Lower Saxony, and on Feb. 2 on a Syrian national leaving a mosque in Halle-Neustadt in the region of Saxony-Anhalt were described as racist attacks.

On Jan. 21, just a day after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear terrorist groups from Afrin, a pro-PKK/PYD group targeted a mosque in the German city of Kassel. On Jan. 22, two mosques of DITIB in the German cities of Leipzig and Minden were attacked by the terrorist group’s supporters.

Separately, on March 25, two more mosques were vandalized in Herne city and Amberg town; both houses of worship were being managed by the DITIB.

At the Wanne Eickel Haci Bayram Mosque, the assailants drew a cross on the front door and wrote messages praising the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler; political messages supporting the YPG/PKK terrorist group were spray painted on the Ulu Mosque. The attacks have caused a great deal of insecurity and anger among the Muslim community as the German police have failed to arrest culprits in most of the cases. The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993, but it remains active, with nearly 14,000 followers in the country. Ankara has long criticized Berlin for not taking serious measures against the PKK, which uses the country as a platform for their fund-raising, recruitment, and propaganda activities. Germany has a 3 million-strong Turkish community, many of whom are second- and third-generation German-born citizens whose Turkish grandparent’s moved to the country during the 1960s. Germany is followed by the Netherlands as at least six assaults against the Islamic houses of worship across the country were recorded in the first three months of 2018.

A mosque in the Dutch capital Amsterdam was targeted by a group of far-right extremists on Jan. 18. The far-right “Rechts in Verzet” movement has claimed responsibility for the attack and hanged anti-Islam banners and a headless mannequin in front of the Amir Sultan Mosque in Amsterdam.

A mosque in the Dutch port city of The Hague was vandalized on Feb. 3, in which a Turkish flag was crossed with red paint with slogans against the Turkish president also written on it. Another mosque, frequented mostly by Moroccan-origin worshippers, in northern Drachten town came under an arson attack on Feb. 11.  On Jan. 23, the walls of a mosque of the Geylani Service Foundation in Rotterdam were painted with the PKK/PYD terrorist slogans. The attacks also targeted the Muslim community and mosques in France and Italy. (AA)