Germany ups police presence at mosques over ‘very high’ security threat

Germany has increased police presence across the country, and at mosques in particular, as part of efforts to counter the “very high” security threat from far-right extremists in the wake of the recent racist attack.

“The security threat from right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism is very high,” German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said at a press conference in Berlin on Friday, also announcing an “increased police presence” at mosques, train stations, airports and borders.

Late on Wednesday, a gunman opened fire outside a bar in the Heumarkt district in the western German city of Hanau and then drove off to a second location in the Kesselstadt district, where he opened fire again, killing a total of nine people and injuring several others.

The victims were reported to have been young members of the country’s minority Turkish community who have been targeted due to rising Islamophobia inside Germany.

The suspect was a 43-year-old German citizen from Hanau and together with his 72-year-old mother was found dead at his home in the early hours of Thursday morning.

According to the German newspaper Bild, he left behind a letter of confession and a video claiming responsibility in which he expressed extreme right-wing views.

Condemning the “poison” of racism, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel sent her condolences to the families of the victims and said she mourned with them.

During a vigil for the victims of the deadly shootings, thousands of Germans gathered in Hanau and censured crimes perpetrated by far-right extremists in the country by shouting “Nazis out.”

Addressing the vigil, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier denounced the shooter’s “brutal act of terror,” and said he was heartened to see “thousands, maybe even tens of thousands” turning out across the country to honor the victims.

“We stand together, we want to live together and we show that over and over again. That is the strongest way to fight hatred,” he added.

Large crowds also gathered in Frankfurt and at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, some carrying signs that read “Take racism personally,” and “Never again!”

The double shootings in the western city of Hanau came just days after 12 far-right extremists were arrested on suspicion of plotting six attacks on mosques across the country.

In the wake of the incident, Muslim groups demanded the German government offer their community more protection as they have so far felt the growing threat from the far-right for several years now.

Germany has seen an increase in hate crimes in recent months, prompting it to expand a crackdown on right-wing political violence in order to repress the disturbance.

During the course of 2019, at least one mosque or a Muslim institution or a religious representative in Germany was targeted in anti-Muslim attacks every other day, according to an inquiry by Germany’s Left Party, known as Die Linke in German.

The incidents come as racism-induced and anti-Muslim sentiment mainly fueled by right-wing ideology has been raging across Europe and, in fact,  the whole world.

London police arrested a man on Thursday after a stabbing at a mosque near Regents Park which injured one person.

In mid-March last year, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, a self-proclaimed white supremacist Australian national, massacred 51 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand, using semi-automatic weapons.

He stood trial at the Christchurch High Court on 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act in the city, which is home to about 400,000 people and has a significant Muslim community.



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