Massive increase in anti-Muslim violence in Germany

Against the backdrop of the genocide Israel is committing in Gaza with the help of its NATO allies, violence against Muslims and Palestinians in Germany has increased dramatically in recent weeks and months.

The non-governmental organisation CLAIM has documented 187 cases of violent anti-Muslim attacks, insults, threats, and discrimination in the period from October 9 to November 29, 2023. The incidents include over 149 attacks on individuals or groups, mainly families and groups attacked in public spaces.

Twenty-four attacks were directed against religious institutions—including the desecration of Muslim graves and attacks on mosques. This means that the documented incidents exceed the previous year’s level. The recorded cases relate exclusively to the offline arena and not to the eruption of anti-Muslim hate speech on the internet. Overall, it can be assumed that there is a high number of unreported anti-Muslim incidents that have not yet been reported or recorded.

The following is an incomplete chronology of some attacks:

  • October 9, 2023: Attack on a mosque in Siegburg: the three perpetrators smashed the windows of the mosque, police seized right-wing extremist flyers.
  • October 16, 2023: Arson attack on a mosque in Dortmund.
  • November 17, 2023: Muslim graves were painted with swastikas in Magdeburg.
Muslim tomb desecrated with a swastika in Magdeburg
  • December 10, 2023: In Berlin, racists attacked a Palestinian man who was wearing a Keffiyeh. He had asked riders to make room on the train for an elderly woman with a walking frame. “F*ck off you Arab, go back to your homeland,” the attackers shouted before beating him up.
  • December 11, 2023: Racist graffiti was discovered on the facade of the Heinrich-Heine-Gymnasium in Munich including the call to “Kill all Palestinians.”
  • December 21, 2023: An Arab restaurant in Ludwigshafen received an online order that included a call for genocide against the Palestinians: “No ceasefire until the last Muslim! Death to Islam and all its followers! Destroy hospitals in Gaza!”
  • December 24-25, 2023: In Rimpar (Bavaria), eight swastikas were daubed on a wall on Christmas night in a street where several Muslim families live. The tires of 16 cars were also slashed.
  • December 26, 2023: In Wachtersberg (Hesse), the house of a family originating from Pakistan was the victim of an arson attack.
  • December 27, 2023: In Wuppertal (NRW), numerous Islamophobic graffiti such as “Muslims out!” appeared overnight.
Anti-Muslim graffiti in Wuppertal
  • January 18, 2024: In Dresden, two women wearing headscarves were attacked in public.
  • January 20, 2024: There was an arson attack on a Bosnian mosque under construction in Essen. Swastika graffiti was also left behind.
  • January 26, 2024: In Mössingen (Baden-Württemberg), a mosque was daubed with a swastika and the threat of a Holocaust.
  • February 7, 2024: Unknown persons destroyed several objects (photos of mosques, blinds and a piece of furniture) in the Room of Silence on the Treskowallee campus of HTW Berlin.
  • February 8,2024: Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian graffiti was found in the Käftertal and Vogelstang districts of Mannheim (Baden-Württemberg). In addition to “F*ck Palestine,” it also said, “Kill all Muslims.”

The German government and media are directly responsible for the violence. They have systematically created the political and ideological conditions for it. They are among the most aggressive supporters of the far-right Israeli government, which is committing genocide against the Palestinian population. Any protest against this is criminalised under the false accusation of antisemitism. Palestinians and Muslims are vilified across the board as perpetrators of violence and/or terrorists. The right to demonstrate is being restricted; slogans in favour of a free, united Palestine are being equated with the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil!”

Demonstrators report brutal police violence at the rallies. Participants—some of them even children—are arrested by the dozen without justification and subjected to racist harassment. Immediately after October 7, hundreds of police laid siege to Sonnenallee in Neukölln, Berlin and arbitrarily arrested people for wearing the wrong clothes or saying the wrong thing. Wearing a “Palestinian scarf” or shouting the slogan “Free Palestine” was enough for an arrest.

Organisations or private individuals who condemn the genocide in Gaza and are active in this regard were also attacked. For example, the German branch of the international aid network “Samidoun-Palestinian Solidarity Network,” which supports Palestinian political prisoners, was banned.

The witch-hunting began long before October 7. In September 2023, over 700 attacks against Muslims were documented in the first few months of the year. Incitement and violence against Muslims have steadily increased in previous years—with increasingly murderous consequences.

February 19 marked the fourth anniversary of the racist attacks in Hanau when a fascist killed nine people. The role of the police in the attack is still largely unexplained and is being covered up by the authorities.

There have been other deadly right-wing extremist attacks in previous years. On July 22, 2016, 18-year-old right-wing extremist David Sonboly killed nine people with a migrant background in Munich; on June 2, 2019, a neo-Nazi known to the police shot and killed Kassel District President Walter Lübcke (Christian Democrat). And on October 9, 2019, more than 70 participants in a Yom Kippur celebration in Halle escaped mass murder only by luck—the right-wing extremist assassin Stephan Balliet killed two people after failing to gain entry to the synagogue.

This increase in right-wing extremist violence and the associated political repression against Muslims, Palestinians and left-wing forces in Germany is the result of the ruling class’s shift to the right. For years, all the establishment parties have been building up the fascist Alternative for Germany (AfD) and adopting its policies.

While millions of people are taking to the streets against the AfD’s deportation plans, the federal government—a coalition of the Social Democrats, Liberal Democrats and Greens—is de facto putting these plans into practice with the so-called “Repatriation Improvement Act.” At the EU level, the reform of the “Common European Asylum System“ (CEAS) has largely abolished the right to asylum. The law makes it possible to detain refugees at the EU’s external borders for up to one year. To this end, the existing detention centres are being expanded and the deadly violence against refugees at the external borders of Fortress Europe is being constantly stepped up.