On Friday, Muslim organizations in Germany held a nationwide campaign against religious extremism to draw attention to growing racism and attacks against mosques. At a press conference held in Berlin on Tuesday, Dr. Zekeriya Altug, head of the northern branch of DITIB - the largest Turkish-Muslim union in Germany - said, "Many terror groups are using Islamic symbols, values and terminologies for their goals. We Muslims do not want to be indifferent to abuse of our values and terminologies. We would like to give a clear message on Friday and try to demonstrate what Islam in reality stands for," he said. During Friday prayer this week, imams from 2,000 mosques throughout Germany delivered messages on the real values of Islam, Dr. Altug said. He also added that non-Muslims were also to be welcome to mosques to show solidarity with them.
The highlight of the nationwide campaign, "Muslims Standing Against Hate and Injustice" on Sept. 19, was peace rallies in front of mosques in nine big cities including Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Hanover. Several leading political figures including German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Integration Minister Aydan Ozoguz were among the participants.
Recent developments in the Middle East and attacks and violent killings by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have sparked suspicion and negative feelings towards Muslims in Germany.
The participation of some radicalized young Germans to ISIS has further added to worries. According to a survey by the Forsa Institute last month, 52 percent of Germans do not see Islam as part of Germany, despite the fact four million Muslims have lived in the country for decades.
Ali Kızılkaya, the spokesperson for Germany's Muslim Coordination Council (KRM), told journalists on Tuesday that the radicalization among some of the younger generation of Muslims should be a common concern for all in Germany. "This problem is affecting all of us. These radicalized people have socialized in this country. They have taken lots of things from this society. They had frustrations, maybe fear of the future. This problem is related to sociological questions rather than religious questions," Kızılkaya said.
German security organizations estimate that about 400 Germans, mostly young immigrants, travelled to Syria and joined ISIS since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. About 120 returned to Germany. The recent attacks against mosques in Germany have sparked fears among the Muslim community. Unknown suspects attacked five mosques across the country last month, and eighty mosques were attacked in the last two years, according to Germany's Muslim Coordination Council (KRM).