Brno, Czech Republic – A mosque in Brno, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city, was defaced with death threats on Friday, the Czech News Agency (CTK) reported.
A yet-unidentified person spray-painted “Do not spread Islam in the Czech Republic! Otherwise, we will kill you”, on the outside wall.
Since its opening in 1998, the Brno mosque has been vandalized and defaced several times, according to Muneeb Hassan Alrawi, the head of the Czech Republic’s Muslim community. Alrawi added that they were taking the death threats very seriously.
In 2013, a piece of pork was hung on the front door and pig bones scattered at the mosque’s entrance. Two years later, the building’s windows were smashed and the door and front wall sprayed with oil. The Czech far-right organization DSSS has also organized a number of anti-Muslim protests in front of the mosque, including some when they verbally attacked the faithful present and burned pages of the Koran in front of them.
“We take it seriously as a direct threat, it’s not an anonymous call on the internet. We must see this in the light of attacks on mosques in the world and of the oppressive sentiment and atmosphere in the Czech Republic”, Alrawi said, referring to the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric since the 2015 refugee crisis, which marked a turning point and stoked xenophobic sentiment, especially towards migrants and refugees from the Middle-East and other Muslim countries.
Czech police are currently investigating the incident to find the perpetrators, who could face up to one year of prison if found guilty.
Although officially numbering at around 3,400 according to a 2011 census, unofficial estimates suggest a Czech Muslim community of 10,000-20,000 – less than 0.5% of the Czech population. Despite its small size, Czech leaders, including President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babis, have regularly tapped into the fears of the population and presented Muslim migrants as an existential threat to Czech and European society.
Last March, Prague’s Imam Leonid Kušnarenko was expelled and forced to step down after posting a video on social media calling Muslims in the Czech Republic to arm themselves as a preventive measure in order, according to him, “to prevent fools from going to a mosque and doing bad things”.