Islamophobia Most Likely Behind Bomb Attacks In Dresden, Germany

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Police are stepping up protection of Muslim institutions in the city after two almost simultaneous bombs attacks in the city.

Twin bomb blasts in Dresden, Germany, came just days before the celebrations planned in the city to mark the anniversary of re-unification of East and West Germany on Oct. 3, 1990. The police believe there might be a link between the incidents and the upcoming event.

The bombings happened at a city mosque and an international conference center.

Fortunately, there were no casualties, although the imam of the mosque was inside the building with his wife and sons.

Mehmet Demirbas, founder of the mosque that was hit, said the Muslim community had been expecting some kind of attack for a long time.

"Glass panes have been broken in the past, or graffiti on the wall. But this is the first time something like this happens. Hopefully it will be the last time and we carry on happily living in Dresden," he said.

Soon after the mosque explosion, Dresden's International Congress Center was also damaged by a homemade device and the bar of a nearby hotel had to be evacuated.

A part of Dresden's Unity Day celebrations was set to be held at the center.

So far, it is unclear who is behind the attacks. However, the authorities are not taking any chances.

"Even if we so far have no claim of responsibility, we must go on the basis that the motive was xenophobic," Horst Kretzschmar, president of Dresden police, said in a statement.

All Muslim institutions in the city are now under increased surveillance.

The influx of about 1 million migrants, mostly Muslims, to Germany last year has increased social tensions, especially in eastern Germany where there have been some high-profile attacks on refugee shelters.

The alleged involvement of migrants in assaults on women in Cologne on New Year's Eve also spurred PEGIDA, which said it was proof that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcoming stance to refugees was flawed.

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Earlier this year the party staged rallies in several cities across Europe to protest against the immigrants.

"We must succeed in guarding and controlling Europe's external borders as well as its internal borders once again," demanded PEGIDA member Siegfried Daebritz.

If xenophobia is indeed behind the instances, a prominent name that comes to mind is that of Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), the grassroots anti-Islam movement and Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that says Islam is not compatible with the country's constitution.

AfD co-leader Frauke Petry condemned the attack on the mosque, saying, "Attacking a building in which people worship God is barbaric, whether it be a church, a mosque or a synagogue."

PEGIDA, founded in Dresden in October 2014, makes no secret of its aim to resist what it sees as a threat posed by Islamic extremism or Islamization. The group has also called for the enforcement of existing laws to curb immigration, particularly for those Muslims whom it views as refusing to integrate.

However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also stressed at an annual Islamic conference recently that Islam belonged to Germany.

"Islam is part of Germany, and it is part of Europe; it is part of our present, and it is part of our future," Schäuble declared at the opening of the German Conference on Islam.

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