Police have opened an investigation after two neighboring nurseries in the eastern German city of Leipzig received threats when they decided to remove pork from the children's lunch menu. The nurseries' management had filed criminal charges after receiving the threats, including pledges to kill those responsible for the menu with a "knife in the heart" and others to beat up its staff "until [they] are unable to work."
About three weeks ago, parents received a letter from the management saying that "out of respect for a changing world, only pork-free food and snacks will be ordered and given out starting July 15." The nurseries then reversed the ban when uproar ensued. According to a report in the German newspaper Bild, the initial decision to ban pork was made out of respect to two Muslim children at the nursery, who aren't allowed to eat the meat according to Islam.
"In 2019, kindergartens are threatened when they change their menu, because it does not fit a small-minded picture of the world," Burkhard Jung, Leipzig's social democratic mayor said in a post on social media. "The sinking of Western civilization and the danger to our enlightened freedom is not the result of those who, for whatever reason, have a different food culture than it is common at the traditional German regular table, but because of those who have lost their moral compass. We must not look away, not keep quiet, not hide away: Freedom, equality and empathy are also at risk in our country."
Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia in recent years triggered by the propaganda of far-right parties. More than 100 mosques and religious institutions were attacked in 2018. Police recorded 813 hate crimes against Muslims last year, including insults, threatening letters and physical assaults. At least 54 Muslims were injured in the attacks. Germany, a country of over 81 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country's nearly 4.7 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish descent. Many Germans of Turkish descent are second- and third-generation descendants of Turkish immigrants who moved to the country during the 1960s.
At least three mosques across Germany received email threats earlier this month, prompting officials to evacuate the buildings and increase the security measures. Two mosques in the southern German state of Bavaria were evacuated after their staff received menacing emails, apparently from a far-right group that threatened to kill Muslims and demanded the release of its members from prison.