ANKARA: About 30 headstones at a Muslim cemetery in the northwestern German city of Iserlohn have been damaged, police said Saturday.
The incident occurred late Friday or early Saturday, according to a statement by prosecutors and the Hagen police department. Authorities issued an appeal for information from anyone who witnessed the vandalism or has information that could help the investigation.
The attack comes amid a worrying rise in Islamophobic crimes in Germany in recent years.
Separately, the Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed “sadness” about the incident.
It said the attack on New Year’s Eve is “a new indicator of sick Islamophobic mentality which has been on rise especially in Europe and even targets Muslim cemeteries.”
The ministry urged officials to find the “perpetrators of this disastrous attack” and that they are “brought to justice and given the punishment they deserve.”
It also asked authorities to “take the necessary measures to prevent such incidents from happening.”
According to a recently published “European Islamophobia Report 2020,” a total of 901 Islamophobic crimes were registered by the Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany in 2020.
Eighteen anti-Islam demonstrations were held and 16 were organized by the racist PEGIDA movement in Germany during the same year.
Furthermore, 2020 saw a rise in online Islamophobia as coronavirus lockdowns were imposed and life shut down across Europe, according to the report.