Attacks on Turkish communities in Germany reportedly on the rise

There have been dozens of attacks so far this year on Turkish mosques and restaurants in Germany — a sharp rise from last year's figures. The Interior Ministry said Turkey's offensive in Afrin has inflamed tensions.

As tensions rise over the Turkish government's offensive in Afrin, the violence is spilling over in Germany's Kurdish and Turkish communities.

German police have logged a total of 37 attacks carried out by suspected pro-Kurdish activists so far this year, reported newspapers by the Funke media group in Germany on Tuesday. The attacks targeted Turkish mosques, restaurants and cultural organizations.

Read moreGerman Muslims call for solidarity over mosque attacks

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DW News | 11.03.2018

Germany: Attacks on mosques and Turkish properties

There were 13 such attacks for the entirety of last year, according to figures provided by the Interior Ministry. The figures do not include attacks carried out by suspected far-right extremists.

"Germany has long been a mirror and sounding board for Turkish-Kurdish conflicts in view of the large numbers of people with Turkish backgrounds living here," an Interior Ministry spokeswoman told the Funke media group newspapers.

"This is especially true considering the backdrop of current events in and around Afrin," she added.

The spokeswoman emphasized, however, that the figures for this year and for last year are still provisional and may rise or fall.

Read moreAre German imams praying for Turkey to beat Kurds in Syria?

Arson and vandalism

In the past few weeks, there have been numerous arson attacks, acts of vandalism and other attacks on Turkish institutions in Germany.

In one incident, three youths were seen throwing a Molotov cocktail through the window of a mosque in Berlin. In the small south western German town of Lauffen, attackers hit a Turkish-linked mosque with explosive devices.

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Kurds in Germany look anxiously to Afrin

Communities in Germany should expect further attacks, Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentarian and deputy head of the foreign policy, defense and human rights commitees Rolf Mützenich told DW. 

"It was also the case in the past that domestic Turkish conflicts were also noticable in Germany," Mützenich told DW. "Clearly the political atmosphere in these communities is such that the tensions are on the rise again."

Read moreKurdish youth in Germany call for violent protest in Europe

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DW News | 20.03.2018

Humanitarian crisis deepens in Afrin and eastern Ghouta

On January 20, Turkey launched a military operation against Afrin, a Kurdish-majority area of northern Syria. Armed with German-made tanks and with the help of its allied groups in Syria, Turkish troops seized Afrin on Sunday.

The offensive sparked large protests by Kurdish communities in Germany.

Additional reporting by Kersten Knipp.

rs/kl (AFP, dpa, epd)

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Open house at Germany's mosques

German mosques - German unity

The "Day of Open Mosques" has taken place since 1997 on the Day of German Unity – Germany's national holiday. The date was deliberately chosen to express Muslims' connection to the German people and how they consider themselves part of German Unity, the Central Council of Muslims explains. About 100,000 visitors are expected – here, some are seen standing in front of Berlin's Sehitlik Mosque.

Open house at Germany's mosques

Mosques for all

On this day, Muslim communities want to give visitors an understanding of Islam, so where better than an actual mosque? Far more than just places for prayer, mosques also serve as gathering points for creating community and social interaction. The word "mosque" derives from the Arabic word "majid," which means "place for prostration in prayer."

Open house at Germany's mosques

Rituals and rules

Part of getting to know Islam is becoming familiar with its rituals and rules. One initial ritual before entering the mosque involves removing one's shoes before entering the prayer room. There is a focus on cleanliness and purification: before each prayer, Muslims carry out a ritual ablution. Because worshipers touch the prayer rug with their foreheads, the carpets must always be clean too.

Open house at Germany's mosques

Architecture and history

Most mosques offer guided tours, as seen above with this mosque in Hürth near Cologne. Here, visitors can get a picture of Islamic architecture, history and day-to-day life in a mosque, and hence understand more about how Islamic communities in Germany gather and build community.

Open house at Germany's mosques

Sharing spirit

The Merkez mosque in Duisburg, opened in 2008, is the largest mosque in Germany. Integration work is one of the focal points for Duisburg's Muslim community. Besides guided tours through the mosque, visitors get the chance to attend noon and afternoon prayers. Afterwards, visitors are invited for a cup of tea.

Open house at Germany's mosques

Sharing salah

Experiencing an Islamic prayer is one point of the agenda for the October 3 event. But the actual area for prayers is off-limits for visitors. As can be seen in the Sehitlik mosque here, visitors listen to prayers from a grandstand. The word for prayer in Arabic is "salah" or "salat," which literally means "connection to God."

Open house at Germany's mosques

Misbaha and rosary

This boy was given a chain with prayer beads during the Day of Open Mosques at the Frankfurt. The faithful move the beads through their fingers to repeat prayers and chants, just as is done in Christendom and Buddhism. This chain, consisting of at least 33 beads, is called "tasbih" or "misbaha" in Islam. The beads prove to be useful when reciting Allah's 99 names.

Open house at Germany's mosques

Intercultural dialogue

Mosques in Germany open their doors for cultural understanding on other occasions, too. For instance, during the German Catholic Convention, Catholic nuns take part in guided tours, as seen here in the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque in Mannheim. Such occasions offer an opportunity for Catholicism and Islam to cultivate a close relationship.

Open house at Germany's mosques

Breaking down prejudices

Mosques in Dresden invite visitors to cultural exchange as well. The Al-Mostafa mosque has already published a schedule of events: there will be lectures held by the imam about Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran, as well as conversation hours to share refreshments, learn and discuss. In a city where the Islamophobic PEGIDA group made headlines, this offering is especially important.