Christian refugees have reported discrimination by Muslim refugees in the initial reception centre Rotenburg on the river Fulda in Hesse. The two Iranians Hamed F. (24) and Morteza G. (33), who were accommodated there from February to August, said they were insulted as ” unclean” in the facility and locked out of the communal showers several times. Their statements are in a report by the organisation Open Doors, which works for persecuted Christians worldwide.
” An unclean person is not allowed to take a shower,” he was told, said Morteza G. He reported this several times to the security guards, but received the answer: “If nothing bad happens, we can’t do anything.
According to their own statements, both refugees had come to the Christian faith in Iran and fled from there because of reprisals by the police. “At first everything was good,” said Hamed F. “But when we started going to a church service on Sundays, the abuse started.” The hostility by some of the Muslim housemates also escalated into assault, he said. One Christian friend had a tooth knocked out and another had his hand broken, Hamed F. said.Morteza G. reported an incident when he heard some of his flatmates say: “We beat the Iranians outside”. When he told this to an interpreter, the latter replied that there was nothing he could do about it. During the night, Christian residents were indeed attacked. Both asylum seekers attributed the attacks to anti-Christian attitudes. Muslim Iranians had not had any problems.He had also been threatened outside the accommodation, Hamed F. reported. While shopping in the local grocery shop, three asylum seekers had made fun of his necklace that had a cross on it, saying: “He wears a necklace like a dog collar”. When he asked them about it, they replied, “We don’t want to see you.” From then on, he did not dare to go shopping alone. He no longer showed his cross necklace and did not dare to say that he was a Christian, even in his new accommodation.Morteza G., who now shares a flat with other asylum seekers, also said he remained afraid. “I thought Germany was a free country where you can live your faith freely,” he said, disappointed. He tries not to leave the flat without distress and not to go out on the street at night.Last July, conflicts between Muslims and Christians in the accommodation became known, confirms the Gießen Regional Council. The police were called in the night of June 2 to 3 – there was a mass brawl. The background remains unclear, the police headquarters of Eastern Hesse informs. Hamed F. reports that it started with three to four men attacking a fellow resident wearing a necklace with a cross, who were soon joined by other men carrying weapons.After the incident, the Central Council of Oriental Christians in Germany, on behalf of the organisation Open Doors and with the approval of the Regional Council, questioned the Christian refugees in the facility from June 10 to July 6. According to the authorities, 49 of the 622 residents at the time were Christians. 32 of them individually filled out a multilingual questionnaire. According to the data published by Open Doors on the internet, many respondents expressed fear for their well-being and even their lives.On the 10th of July, the police were called again. Christian residents returning from a church service found a graffito on the wall of their unlocked room, according to police headquarters. The Arabic characters said “God is great” and “It is time to kill”. Next to the death threat, a cross was crossed out, report Hamed F. and Morteza G. The police only arrived after the second call and only photographed the graffito. After three weeks, a police officer came back and asked the residents if they had done the graffiti themselves.After this incident, according to information from the regional council, the 49 Christian refugees at the time were offered accommodation in a separate part of the building. More than half of them had made use of the offer.According to Open Doors, the reports from Rotenburg are not isolated cases. At the end of November, there were 136 such reports from refugee shelters in Hesse and 39 from Rhineland-Palatinate. In October, the organisation spoke of 743 cases of discrimination, threats or violence against Christians and Yazidis nationwide.