Bomb threat against Cologne's largest mosque raises German Turks' fears

German authorities in Cologne evacuated the country's largest mosque on Tuesday in response to a bomb threat, Deutsche Welle reported. 

After conducting a search with sniffer dog, the police determined that no bomb had been placed in the mosque run by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) and removed the cordon around the building.

Police had responded after an email message containing “serious threats” had been sent to the mosque, authorities said. Two classes of schoolchildren were among those evacuated from the building. 

“We’re worried, we’re scared. Attacks on mosques have been on the rise as of late”, DİTİB spokesperson Zekeriya Altuğ said, adding that the threat of a bomb attack had added to fears.

Another DİTİB mosque was vandalised in the early hours of Tuesday in the German city of Karlsruhe, Russian state-funded outlet Sputnik Turkey reported. An attack on a mosque in Tilburg, Holland was also reported this week.

A study last year showed that anti-Muslim hate was on the rise in Germany, where a reported 44 percent of respondents said they believed Muslims should be banned from migrating to the country.

Three mosques have been attacked in Germany in two days in June, Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported, citing Turkish German community leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan travelled to Cologne last September to open the central mosque, which is the largest in Germany and one of the largest in Europe.

DİTİB was founded by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs in the 1980s. While the German Islamic union says it is not directly linked to the Turkish government, it has received heavy criticism in Germany after being accused of spying on German citizens who oppose Erdoğan’s government.