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German president apologizes to Turkish imam for mosque attack

DAILY SABAH WITH ANADOLU AGENCY
ISTANBUL
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As Turkey's concerns grow over Islamophobic and xenophobic attacks in Germany, the country's president and chancellor hosted Hamza Turan, the imam of a Turkish-run mosque in Dresden which was the latest target of apparent Islamophobic attacks in Germany last month.

Turan and his family met President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday and the imam told the Turkish media after the meetings that Gauck apologized for the attack and expressed failure to provide protection for them.

Fatih Mosque in Dresden, run by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), a Turkish NGO, was subject to an attack by homemade explosives, in the last week of September. The bomb exploded in front of the lodgings of the mosque where Turan and his family resides and damaged the building while triggering a fire. No one was injured in the attack whose perpetrators remain at large.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency after the visit, Turan said Joachim Gauck met him and his family, expressed his sorrow over the attack and apologized. "He told us, ‘We are sorry. We could not protect you but we will investigate the matter.' I thanked him for his remarks," Turan said.

The attack followed the firebombing of the Mimar Sinan Mosque in Hessen a few days ago. Unidentified suspects hurled Molotov cocktails in the non-lethal attack targeting the DİTİB-run mosque in the city of Bebra. The incidents come in the wake of what the DİTİB has claimed a defamation campaign by German politicians. The DİTİB was critical of the statements "that amount to outright hostility" after three politicians from different political parties claimed the association was under the influence of the Turkish government and therefore, should not be allowed to shape Islamic religious education in Germany.

Mosques in Germany, where anti-Muslim sentiment accompanying the influx of Muslim refugees rises, are occasionally subject to attacks, ranging from Molotov cocktails to tossing of pig's heads. A Turkish parliamentary committee investigating the targeting of mosques found some 297 attacks against mosques between 2001 and 2014 and they mostly targeted Turkish mosques.

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