There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, and practice. Because ethnicity and religion are often inextricably linked, it is difficult to categorize many incidents specifically as ethnic or religious intolerance.
According to the most recent reports provided during the year, in 2010 the federal OPC recorded 15,905 right-wing “politically motivated crimes” (PMCs). The Federal Criminal Investigation Office defines PMCs as offenses related to the victims’ ideology, nationality, ethnicity, race, skin color, religion, worldview, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability status, parents, or social status. The OPC report also indicated in 2010 there were 3,747 left-wing PMCs, 790 PMCs by foreigners, and 369 PMCs of other types.
A degree of anti-Semitism based on religious doctrines and historical anti-Jewish prejudice continued to exist. Far right political organizations claimed Jews were the cause of negative modern social and economic trends and most anti-Semitic acts were attributed to neo-Nazi or other right-wing groups or individuals. NGOs that monitor anti-Semitism indicated Muslim youth were increasingly involved in attacks on and harassment of Jews. Groups in civil society who monitor and work to counter anti-Semitism reported that anti-Semitism as a trend was on the rise among Muslim youth during the year. Federal authorities generally took action against anti-Semitic offenses.
The most common anti-Semitic acts were the desecration of Jewish cemeteries or monuments with graffiti that included the use of swastikas.
On August 26, a group of teenagers assaulted a Jewish teenager in Stuttgart. The victim was beaten up and kicked in the stomach and head while his assailants shouted anti-Semitic insults. A police investigation is ongoing.
Also in August the Protestant Church of Baden-Wuerttemberg dismissed a vicar for marrying a Muslim man, calling the marriage an “annunciation obstacle.” The church claimed that the spouse of a priest must be a Protestant, and although exceptions are possible for spouses of different Christian denominations, an exception could not be made in the case of marriage to a Muslim.
On July 6, the Berlin county court sentenced a perpetrator who had confessed to a series of 2010 arson attacks to two years and nine months of prison. The court found the perpetrator suffered from a serious mental disorder and it excluded a xenophobic motivation for the attacks, which included four assaults on the Sehitlik mosque in Berlin-Tempelhof, and others on the Al-Nur mosque in Berlin-Neukolln and the Islamic Cultural Center of Iranians in Berlin-Brandenburg.
On May 31, a billboard advertising company refused to accept an order for billboards from the COS with the argument that “their customers did not want it.”
In April a Jewish cemetery in Essen was desecrated on the night of Hitler’s birthday. Gravestones were smeared with swastikas and runic characters symbolizing the Nazi regime. More than three months later, police identified three neo-Nazis as perpetrators. Two of them admitted to committing the anti-Semitic acts. In August the Essen state prosecutor indicted the three on charges of “using symbols of anti-constitutional organizations and malicious damage” before a juvenile court. At year’s end, there was no information on the outcome of the case.
On February 19, unknown persons defiled a mosque and a Jewish cemetery in Saarland by painting them with Nazi symbols. Also on February 19 in Saarland, 19 tombstones in the Jewish cemetery were knocked over and destroyed.
The rise of a substantial Muslim minority continued to engender social conflict with religious overtones at times. These conflicts commonly included local resistance to mosque construction, opposition to the leasing of land for Muslim cemeteries, or disagreements over whether Muslims could legally use loudspeakers in residential neighborhoods to call believers to prayer. Authorities argued many disputes were related to compliance with construction and zoning laws, and private groups (with some Interior Ministry financing) sought to better educate Muslim groups about these laws to reduce conflicts. Muslim groups, however, claimed such rules were often abused or that local opposition was motivated by anti-Muslim bias.
The Catholic and Protestant churches continued to oppose Scientology publicly. Additionally, several private organizations continued to issue public warnings about Scientology after school study programs.
Sect commissioners, primarily church officials from the Protestant and Catholic churches, investigated “sects, cults, and psycho groups” and publicized what they considered to be the dangers of these groups to the public. Protestant sect commissioners were especially active in their efforts to warn the public about alleged dangers posed by the Unification Church, Scientology, Bhagwan-Osho, Transcendental Meditation, and Universal Life. Print and Internet literature of the sect commissioners portrayed these groups unfavorably.
Scientologists in Hamburg continued to report discrimination due to the use of “sect filters,” stating that the Bundesagentur fur Arbeit (Federal Employment Office) continued to use “filters,” as did many small and medium-sized businesses. The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce continued to use the “filter” in its mediation department.
Four of the major political parties (the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, Social Democratic Party, and Free Democratic Party) have banned Scientologists from party membership. Scientologists unsuccessfully challenged these bans in courts.
The Universal Life group reported that sect commissioner portrayals of the group promoted intolerance and that these portrayals were frequently repeated by media and municipal authorities.
Throughout the year, many civil society groups sought to improve societal respect for religious freedom through tolerance programs, multifaith groups, and open dialogue. For example, Jewish NGOs, such as the Central Council of Jews, provided input and assistance on a variety of government-sponsored tolerance education programs focusing on anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Hesse sponsors and is home to several interreligious federations, including the Interkultureller Rat (Intercultural Council), which promotes dialogue between native and nonnative residents, and the multifaith Religious Council, which seeks to improve sensitivity to religious needs, such as in hospitals.
The Bremen City Hall hosted the organization Peace Prayer of Religions for an event on January 23. Representatives of the following faiths were present: Christians, Muslims, Alevites, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Baha’is. Bremen Mayor Jens Bohrnsen gave a speech in which he underscored the culture of tolerance in Bremen.