Dutch Muslims concerned by mosque attacks


An unidentified man wearing a hoodie placed fireworks in the window of the Selimiye Mosque in Enschede, a city in the Netherlands, on December 14. A few seconds later, the fireworks exploded, breaking the window.

The motives of the perpetrator remain unclear – he has not yet been caught – but mosque board member Sezgin Akman said he suspects the attack was inspired by hatred of Islam. “Maybe someone wanted to tell us we are not welcome,” he said, adding the mosque has received several threatening letters in the past.

More than one-third of the Netherlands’ 475 mosques have experienced at least one incident of vandalism, threatening letters, attempted arson, the placement of pigs’ heads, or other aggressive actions in the past 10 years, according to research by Ineke van der Valk, author of the book Islamophobia and Discrimination.

The Kuba Mosque, in the city of IJmuiden, said it has counted more than 40 such incidents since its founding in 1993.

“Lines like ‘go to hell, Muslims’ on the wall, graffiti that contains Nazi symbols, pig heads on the doorstep, Molotov cocktails … A lot has happened,” said Suleyman Celik, a board member of the Kuba Mosque. “Two years ago, a female visitor who left the building was pelted with beer bottles by men driving by in a car. She broke her teeth and had to go to the hospital.”

On June 23, two men shouting racist slogans entered the Kuba Mosque after an argument outside. They threatened to kill those inside, and broke the nose of one of the mosque’s board members. They were arrested two days later by police.

Continue reading

Swedish marchers denounce Christmas Day arson attack on mosque

Eskilstuna solidarity demo

Several hundred marchers turned out in a Swedish town on Friday to denounce an arson attack on a mosque that injured five people on Christmas Day as the traditionally tolerant country confronts the rising influence of the extreme right.

A firebomb was thrown through a closed window of the mosque in the central city of Eskilstuna on Thursday, injuring five of the nearly 70 worshippers inside, two of whom remained in hospital on Friday.

Answering calls by the “Together for Eskilstuna” Facebook page to denounce the attack, a large group of people converged on the damaged mosque to show their support. “Several hundred people were there to deliver a message of friendship,” a police spokesman, Roland Lindqvist, told AFP.

According to police, windows in a second Eskilstuna mosque were broken overnight on Thursday, though authorities couldn’t say whether the two attacks were linked.

Sweden’s leftist prime minister, Stefan Löfven, denounced the “hateful violence”. “We will never tolerate this kind of crime. Those who want to practise their religion should have the right to do so,” Lofven told SR radio.

Continue reading

Arson attack on Swedish mosque injures five

Eskilstuna mosque arson (2)

An arsonist set fire to a mosque in central Sweden on Thursday injuring five people, police said, as the country grapples with a political crisis caused by the rise of the extreme right.

“Somebody threw an object through a closed window and afterwards a fire started inside,” police spokesman Lars Franzell told AFP. “There were between 15 and 20 people in the premises.”

Refugee-friendly Sweden woke up to the reality of a new political landscape in early December when the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats brought down the government by refusing to back its budget proposal in parliament.

The mosque is located on the ground floor of a building in the city of Eskilstuna, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of Stockholm. According to police, the fire started in the early afternoon. Police said they were investigating the incident as a case of aggravated arson but had no suspects yet.

The five injured were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries including smoke inhalation, lacerations and fractures.

Continue reading

Green MPs warn of growing threat of Islamophobia in Germany

Ozcan Mutlu and Belit Onay

“Islamophobia poses a big problem in Germany, like anti-Semitism,” warns Özcan Mutlu [above, left], a representative of the Green Party in the German parliament in Berlin.

Speaking with The Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Mutlu warned that the rising turnout of the demonstrations was of grave concern for the five million Muslims of Germany. Demonstrations in the East German city of Dresden led by the far right group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident have attracted thousands.

“Islamophobia has peaked nowadays in Germany, becoming especially widespread in Europe after the 9/11 terror attacks,” he pointed out.

Mutlu blames German media for failing to adequately cover the threat. “German media has not taken its responsibility of warning the people about Islamophobia so far,” Mutlu said.

“The problem is not the large turnout at these demonstrations, but the fact that they propogate racism and Islamophobia,” Mutlu said. Mutlu pointed out the anomaly that a large number of demonstrators turn out in Dresden, yet the city has a relatively small Muslim population.

Nearly 100,000 Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany employ approximately 400,000 people, according to the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association. “The demonstrators’ concerns are completely irrelevant, because, the immigrants in Germany do not harm the German economy; on the contrary, they make a contribution to the economy.”

The Green Party has demanded the enhancement of new programs and projects for immigrants, as well as additional financing for them. “But the ruling parties do not agree with us, and they have declined all of our demands,” Mutlu complained.

Mutlu also said that paying more attention to education was essential in eliminating Islamophobia, anti-semitism and anti-immigrant feeling. “We have to teach our children to be aware of racism, and we also have to teach that multiculturalism is rich.”

Lower Saxony Green Party Deputy Belit Onay [above, right] drew attention to the rising number of mosque attacks in Germany, saying that the mosque attackers are driven by Islamophobia. “There is no proof that the organized crime syndicates have committed the attacks,” Onay told AA.

The most recent mosque attack occurred in Dormagen city in the federal state of Northern Rhein-Westphalia on Saturday. Neo-Nazis attacked the Turkish-Islamic Union’s Suleymaniye Mosque by painting swastikas on its walls.

“The mosque attack in Dormagen is unfortunately a common type of attack,” Onay said. “After the 9/11 terror attacks, an average of one mosque attack every two weeks has been carried out in Germany from 2001 to 2011.”

The Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee issued a report in November on the arson attacks targeting the mosques in Germany. The conclusion of the report was that the attacks had become frequent, and that suspects could not be arrested.

Continue reading

Melbourne Muslim woman Nasrin’s justice ordeal after being attacked twice in two days

Nasrin pulled on her long black abaya and pinned her hijab in place. She did it despite knowing that this day, more than ever, her Islamic dress would make her a target.

It was the Tuesday morning after the Sydney siege at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place and Australia had woken to horror headlines of the death of two hostages. While Nasrin grieved for the victims, she also steeled herself for the worst.

As she left her house in the outer Melbourne suburb of Fawkner, she decided that she would remove the password lock from her mobile, to save her a few seconds if she needed to call police.

Sure enough, the mother-of-three would later dial triple zero after a man allegedly began shouting expletives at her as she travelled into the city to work. More than a week later, the police investigation remains ongoing after a 40-year-old Merlynston man was spoken to and released.

Since October, the IT professional says she has been abused three times by strangers who have taken offence to her Islamic dress.

Two of the episodes took place on the Upfield train line during or shortly after the fatal cafe siege. The other was in October, when Nasrin, who wished to use just her first name, said some politicians were advocating banning the burqa in Australia, fuelling anti-Islamic sentiment.

“The government isn’t doing anything to address these issues and I’m an innocent victim of their ignorant bigoted comments by the parliament members,” she said. “We need to hold people accountable from the top.”

There has recently been a surge in reports of violence and harassment against Australian Muslims. In the six days to Tuesday there were 27 reports made to the Islamophobia Register, including at least three in Victoria.

The register’s spokeswoman, Lydia Shelly, suspects there may be many other cases that have gone unreported. She said the majority of public attacks were against women and often in the presence of children.

Continue reading

Australian Defence League head Ralph Cerminara charged after provoking brawl outside mosque

Ralph CerminaraThe head of the Australian Defence League is one of three people who have been charged over a brawl near a mosque in Sydney’s west overnight.

Ralph Cerminara and a second member of controversial anti-Islamic group will face court on Tuesday after they were arrested in Lakemba on Monday night and charged with affray. A third man, who is not a member of the league, was also arrested during the brawl and has been charged by police.

Officers were called to Haldon Street in Lakemba about 8.40pm on Monday to break up a fight involving about 10 men. “Police have been told the fight followed derogatory remarks allegedly made by two men towards people attending the mosque,” a NSW Police spokeswoman said.

Continue reading

Faith leaders stand in solidarity after Central Minnesota Islamic Center attacked

Central Minnesota Islamic Center interfaith eventSt. Cloud-area religious leaders said Sunday they stand with the Muslim community after a series of vandalism at the Central Minnesota Islamic Center.

Religious and community members, including members of the Great River Interfaith Partnership, met Sunday at the Islamic center on Fourth Avenue South. In the past month four incidents of vandalism have been reported there.

About 25 community members discussed the issue and looked at the damage done to the center. On Monday, Islamic center officials will meet with Bishop Donald Kettler.

Abdul Kulane organized the meeting and said he wanted to get support from the greater community. “We invited you to give some validity,” Kulane said. “We called you because we know you care.”

St. Cloud police continue to investigate the incidents and have increased patrols in the area. In late November someone broke the front window and community members had their vehicles damaged when they were parked for prayers before sunrise, center spokesman Mohamoud Mohamed said.

About a week later another window was damaged. Early this month another window was shot 10 times with a pellet gun, the damage still visible. The most recent incident was reported Dec. 15 when a window was smashed while two members were inside the mosque.

Mohamed said he does not understand why someone would target a building that is for peaceful praying and gathering. “This building is a symbol of this community,” he said. “The community has no value if it cannot show a symbol of freedom.”

Ahmed Abdi is secretary of the Islamic center. He said he left about 10 minutes before the Dec. 15 incident occurred. He said he is worried about his safety and safety of others who come to the center.

The Rev. Randy Johnson is the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church. He said as a community they have been here before, pointing at incidents in 2007 when a Muslim man was assaulted after leaving a mosque and cartoons put up near Somali-owned businesses in 2009 that depicted the prophet Muhammad.

“We stood with you then,” he said.

He said it’s a small minority that’s causing the damage. “We are not going to allow those voices to speak for our community,” Johnson said.

Continue reading

Muslim woman assaulted by racists in Braunschweig

The Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reports that a Muslim woman of Syrian heritage was verbally and physically assaulted by four racists in the city of Braunschweig in Lower Saxony last week.

The 29-year-old woman, who was identifiable as a Muslim because of her headscarf and dress, was struck on the knee by a car while crossing the road. Four men, who were said to be in their early 20s, got out and proceeded to subject her to anti-Islamic abuse, while one of them grabbed her by the collar of her jacket.

At that point passers-by intervened and shouted at the men, who got back in the car and drove off. Police have appealed for witnesses to contact them.

Continue reading

Muslim reporter threatened in Paris metro

Hajer M’tiri's assailant hides face

I was sitting in the last car of the Paris metro, in one of the folding seats close to the door. A number of other people were in the car, as well, though it wasn’t packed.

Two stations before my stop, a large man strode into the car. He was about 6-foot-three (1.90 meters), and he had a big belly and long brown hair. He was unshaven.

He stared at me.

As a Muslim woman wearing the scarf, walking in the streets and taking public transportation in Paris means I often face people’s stares. Sometimes I hear comments and whispers. I am a young reporter, just recently assigned to Paris, but I have quickly gotten used to it.

Still, I was unprepared for what happened next.

“P… de musulmane,” the man snarled. F… Muslim.

Then there was silence. No one spoke a word. I was terrified.

Hajer M’tiri reports.

Anadolu Agency, 20 December 2014

Boca Raton, Florida: Man punches car after calling driver a Muslim, police said

A man in Boca Raton punched the hood of a car because he thought the driver was Muslim, police said.

Boca Raton police got a call about a drunken man who had punched a car at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at 101 Plaza Real.

The driver of the vehicle told officers a man, later identified as James Caputo, wandered into the street and was standing there. He stopped his car and waited for Caputo to get out of the street, but when he didn’t, he honked his horn to get him to move.

Caputo turned to look at the driver, who according to police has an olive complextion and dark hair, and started screaming at him.

According to the arrest report, Caputo cursed at the man, called him a Muslim and told him to go back to his country. The driver told police he is Lebanese but is not Muslim.

The driver yelled back at Caputo and then Caputo punched the hood of the man’s car, leaving a significant dent, police said.

Continue reading