A bomb has wrecked a new mosque in the eastern German city of Dresden in an attack described by the police as having “xenophobic” motivations.
No one was hurt in the blast, which took place Monday, September 26, although the mosque’s imam was inside the building with his wife and sons.
“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.
Kretzschmar said three mosques, a Muslim social center, and a prayer room in the city would be given protection immediately.
Soon after the mosque explosion, Dresden’s International Congress Center was also damaged by a homemade device and the bar of a nearby hotel was evacuated.
Police said they found the remains of homemade explosives at both scenes.
About 300 worshippers regularly attend Friday prayers at the Fatih Camii mosque, which is located a short distance from Dresden’s historic center.
The explosion at the mosque was detonated at 19:53 GMT on Monday. The force of the blast pushed the front door of the building inward and left the building covered with soot, police said.
The explosion at the convention center, located less than a mile from the Fatih Camii mosque and on the River Elbe, which runs through Dresden, occurred about half an hour later.
The heat caused by the explosion at the center destroyed the side of a decorative glass cube in an open area in the congress building and resulted in parts of the building being evacuated.
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,” he said.
Dresden was the cradle of the anti-Islam PEGIDA grassroots movement whose weekly rallies attract 20,000 or more supporters.
The mass invasion of 1.5 million nonwhites—the vast majority of them Muslim—at the invitation of Angela Merkel has seen mosques appear like mushrooms in almost every major German town and city.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the mosque attack was “all the more scandalous” because it happened on the eve of the 10th annual meeting of the German Islam Conference.
Police linked the explosion at the congress center to celebrations set to take place next week in Dresden marking the 26th anniversary of German unification, which is to be attended by German President Joachim Gauck.
“We have now switched to crisis mode,” Kretzschmar said, as police deployed to guard the city’s two mosques and an Islamic cultural center.