Police end operation at Germany’s largest mosque after bomb threat

By Yuriko Wahl-Immel, dpa

German police on Tuesday gave the all-clear sign after sealing off a wide area around Cologne Central Mosque, the largest in the country, over a threatening email.

Police wrote on Twitter that “nothing dangerous was found” after “a large number of personnel” were deployed to the area.

After conducting a thorough search, police ended the mission in the afternoon, a police spokesman confirmed.

The mosque, one of the biggest in Europe, was evacuated after the email was received.

“The content had such a high threat potential that we had to act immediately,” a police spokesman said, without giving details of the email’s content.

A spokesman for the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), Germany’s largest Muslim umbrella organization, which runs the mosque, told dpa that it was a bomb threat.

Several specialist officers had searched the mosque complex in the city’s Ehrenfeld district since the morning.

The operation was gradually wound down after 90 minutes.

The DITIB spokesman said that the evacuation had gone smoothly. It was unclear how many people had been in the complex at the time.

In addition to employees, many visitors come and go to the mosque every day. Two school classes had visited in the morning, he said.

“We are worried, we are afraid we are experiencing a concentration of attacks on mosques,” DITIB spokesman Zekeriya Altug said.

Investigations have been launched into the crime of disturbing the public peace by making threats.

The controversial Cologne Central Mosque was officially opened last September by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Politicians at the regional and federal level have criticized DITIB, a branch of the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Ankara, for being an arm of the Turkish state and too close to the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan.