Fire in Berlin’s mosque raises concern among Turkish community

Fire in Berlin’s mosque raises concern among Turkish community

BERLIN – Doğan News Agency
Fire in Berlin’s mosque raises concern among Turkish community

A man looks at the facade of the Mevlana mosque in Berlin, Germany, Aug. 12. AP Photo /Michael Sohn

Fire in Berlin’s Mevlana Mosque raises concern among the Turkish community living in the city, while the police said they removed the arson option off the table.

The fire occurred during the night of Aug. 11 in an unfinished extension of a mosque in Berlin’s immigrant Kreuzberg neighborhood.

One of Berlin’s oldest and biggest mosques, Mevlana Mosque was under reconstruction when a fire gravely damaged it.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Berlin Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu and Berlin Consul-General Ahmet Başar Şen visited the mosque after the fire.

Karslıoğlu told reporters they were concerned over the increase in fires and other attacks on mosques in Germany.

“An arson attack was done on another mosque in the same community last year. A similar incident took place in Bielefeld yesterday. We are saddened and concerned about such incidents,” said Karslıoğlu.

He also said the building was almost finished except for its external and internal ornamentations. Two artisans were planned to complete the ornamentations, but Germany failed to give them visas for seven months, said Karslıoğlu.

He also said he hoped a racist attack was not the cause of the fire.

German police, however, said the fire was probably the result of negligence rather than arson. Police spokesman Klaus Schubert said Aug. 12 that an initial investigation found no evidence of arson. Schubert said police are focusing on negligence “but our investigation isn’t over yet.” Nobody was injured in the fire, which partially destroyed the extension and caused some damage to the original building. Police previously said the fire may be the result of arson and they are looking into a possible “political motive.”

The Mevlana Mosque has been undergoing a series of renovations and extensions since 2013. The Mevlana Mosque has 350 members and is a founding member of the Islamic Federation of Berlin.