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Muslims’ graveyards in Germany sprayed with swastika

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BERLIN: Muslim graveyards being attacked by spray with swastikas is being described as Islamophobic while hate crimes rising in Germany.

Two visitors to a cemetery in Northeim, a German town in Lower-Saxony, made complaints to police after finding tombstones had been sprayed with swastikas.

The visitors discovered that 11 of the 12 tombstones at a Muslim graveyard had been spray painted last week.

The Northeim police reported that the attackers had caused a total of $1,480 (€1,300) worth of damage.

The night of the crime came a day after 9 November, the same date that saw the Nazis stage an organised pogrom against Jewish-owned businesses and Jewish life in general in 1938. Among other things, Jewish cemeteries were also desecrated that night.

“The Muslim grave site has been in existence since 2011 and was the result of cooperation between the city of Northeim and the Muslim communities of the city,”

Mufit Purtelas, a Muslim local from Northeim told Turkish media.

“The then mayor of Northeim, Harald Kuhle, emphasised the importance of the development and described the step as an overdue part of integration,” he continued.

Local Muslims called for and organised a vigil at the Northeim cemetery to be held on Friday where more than 250 citizens came together to for a silent vigil.

The call received support from non-Muslim locals and politicians. The chair of the Northeim Mosque, from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), Mustafa Goksu, thanked politicians for showing solidarity towards Muslims.

“The Muslim community makes an example of successful integration and that multiculturalism is possible, between all religious beliefs,” explained Mufit.

One out of many examples is the Muslim graveyard in a German town.

However, now the question remains open whether believers will be reluctant to be buried in the town, which is home to dozens of Muslims, with the population growing.

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in hate crime towards Muslims.

Attacks on Muslims in Germany and the EU

Only in the last year, at least 950 violent attacks were recorded, aimed at Muslims and Islamic facilities, such as mosques, across Germany.

These attacks have resulted in an increasing number of people being injured.  

In 2018 so far, there have been two attacks on either Muslims or their places of worship every day. And many in the Muslim community believe that this number under-represents the hate crime directed at them.

EU Migration Crisis

Hatred and violence against Muslims has in recent years become more widespread across Europe.

The European migration crisis in 2015 has resulted in bolstering populist and extremist right-wing parties.

After more than a million asylum seekers arrived on the continent, mainly from Syria and Iraq, but also from other war-torn regions, right-wing parties saw an opportunity to whip up emotion for electoral gain.

According to a surveyby the German Bertelsmann Stiftung, about half of the EU population considers Islam to be more violent than other religions. Many of the respondents also believe that Islam is not compatible with Western culture. In some regions of Europe, the rates of anti-Muslim sentiment rise to more than 70 percent of the population.

The media has had a significant role in increasing suspicion of Muslims.

More than three-quarters of all news reports on Muslims and their organisations in Germany paints a negative picture, according to long-term research carried out by the institute Media Tenor International.

‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ are reported on 14 time more frequently than any other religious community in 19 opinion-leading media outlets of German-speaking EU countries.

Distrust and fear translate into hatred and action against those who are believed to be a danger.

The European Islamophobia Report of 2017states: “Islamophobia has become a real danger to the foundations of democratic order and the values of the European Union.

“It has also become the main challenge to the social peace and coexistence of different cultures, religions and ethnicities in Europe.”

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