Mosque in Germany Set on Fire

A newly-constructed mosque in a small town outside Frankfurt was nearly burnt down after a fire attack by unknown perpetrators in the wee hours of Thursday.

The mosque, located in Usingen in the state of Hesse, belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect whose followers have applied for refugee status in Germany on grounds of religious persecution in their native country.

Two days after the attack, the local police are still unable to

determine the motives which led the perpetrators to commit the attack.

A spokesperson of the local crime branch of the police, Gaby Goebel told Bernama that the perpetrators had forced their way into the building and set fire to the prayer hall.

The flames had almost entirely destroyed the prayer hall, according to the police, though nobody was injured. Damage caused by the fire is estimated around 50,000 euros.

The spokesperson said there had been traces of a break-in through the toilet window at the rear side of the mosque.

She also said there were indications to confirm that there was a "deliberate" attempt to set fire to the mosque. A carpet may have been set on fire, she said.

Udo Buhler, a crime branch official, told journalists that footprints left behind in the snow had been discovered near the mosque.

The footprints were of only one perpetrator, he said, declining to comment on the motive behind the attack.

According the local police, a motorist who noticed the fire at the mosque called the police at 5.20 am. Fire engines rushed to the scene to extinguish the fire.

Hadayatullah Hubsch, the spokesman of the Ahmadiyya sect in Germany, told journalists in Frankfurt that right-wing elements had carried out the attack. He said that it was "only too logical that it would happen once".

He disclosed that there had been racial slurs made by right-wing elements in recent years against the Ahmadiyyas and it was "no coincidence that the attack had been committed in Usingen".

The Usingen mayor, Matthias Drexelius, a politician belonging to the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), stated that there had been no indications of any conflict over the construction of the mosque.

The coexistence with the Ahmadiyyas, who lived in Usingen since 1999, had been unproblematic.

The mayor said that the local population had been "deeply disturbed" by the incident and one local resident had even spontaneously offered a donation to compensate for the damage.

The Ahmadiyyas constructed their first mosque in 1957 in the north German city of Hamburg. However, Frankfurt has become their most important centre in Germany today.