A planned protest by Muslims in Munich, who were going to conduct their Friday prayers in the central Marienplatz square, has been cancelled as authorities fear a backlash from right-wing demonstrators.
The protest organised by Muslim Massi Popal was originally meant to highlight the fact that the recent influx of Muslim migrants throughout the migrant crisis has led to a shortage of prayer rooms in the city. Popal wrote on his Facebook page that the event had to be cancelled because of the possibility of counter protests from populists and other right-wing activists broadcaster BR24 reports.
“There is not only danger for the life of the Muslims, but it also endangers the intention of all participants on the ground,” Popal wrote. He went on to add that the attention to the issue had already been achieved without needing to protest and said he wanted to deny the populists a platform.
Instead of praying in the Marienplatz the roughly 200 or so people who registered for the protest will participate in their Friday prayers in space provided by a local Christian church instead.
The city’s Marienplatz square was again in the news Friday for another apparently political protest, as a man doused himself in petrol and set himself alight. Sustaining fatal injuries, Breitbart London reported the car he drove to the square before killing himself was covered in political slogans, at least one of which was reported to be apparently warning about Islamic terrorism.
The migrant crisis has drastically increased the number of Muslims in Munich, and according to some estimates, the total Muslim population is well over 100,000 though no exact figures have been compiled. Munich has a population of around 1.5 million meaning that Muslims could soon approach ten percent of the population.
The lack of prayer space has also led to the creation of underground Islamic prayer rooms in Germany, often run by extremist Islamist groups. After the Berlin Christmas market attack in December, former vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel called for the banning of Salafist mosques across the country.
Though Mr Popal claims that the Muslims may be on the receiving end of abuse due to praying on the street, the opposite was true for several police officers in Hamburg earlier this year who tried to identify several Muslim men praying on the street in a car park.
The four Muslim men attacked the officers after claiming they were “provoked” by the routine patrol and identification check and were later arrested.
In France the issue of space for Muslims to pray led to public prayer protests by a large group of Muslims in Clichy, just outside of Paris. The lease of the building which held their old mosque had expired, and police were forced to expel the Muslims from the building, sparking the protests.