The past few months have seen Muslim communities across Europe face an unprecedented rise in hate crimes committed against them and their places of worship.
The latest wave of violence was reported in the Czech Republic over the weekend after a mosque was vandalized in the city of Brno. Local police said the place of worship - which is reportedly the first to ever open in the country - had graffiti threatening to kill Muslims inscribed on it.
"Don't spread Islam in the Czech Republic! Otherwise we'll kill you," reads the phrase sprayed across the mosque's walls.
Authorities said they've been investigating the vile incident since Friday but not under hate crime charges. Interrogations being conducted fall within "damage to property" regulations for the time being, police spokesman Bohumil Malasek told AFP. A person convicted under such a charge can face up to a year in prison.
The head of the Czech Muslim Communities Centre, Muneeb Hassan Alrawi, strongly condemned the latest hate crime.
"We take it seriously as a direct threat, it's not an anonymous call on the internet. We must also see this in the light of attacks on mosques in the world and of the oppressive sentiment and atmosphere in the Czech Republic," he said while speaking to local news outlets.
The Muslim community in Czechia is tiny compared to neighboring countries. The same goes for refugees and migrants who don't usually pick it out as a place to settle. This is probably because the nation is considered as one of the most hostile towards Muslims and refugees/asylum seekers who adhere to the Islamic faith.
In 2011, statistics tallied the number of Muslims residing in the EU member as 3,358. However, unofficial estimates report that between 10,000 to 20,000 Muslims are Czech Republic residents, according to France 24.
Muslims in the country have long been subjected to hate crimes as local politicians keep pushing forth the bigoted, racist, and flat-out false rhetoric equating people of the faith with terrorism.
The same mosque has been targeted by vandals before
Built in 1998, the mosque has been open for over 20 years and is a symbol of community for the country's Muslims. But unfortunately, disrespecting what the place of worship means for Muslims has become the norm over the years.
In 2013, a piece of pork was hung on the mosque's front door and pig bones were scattered outside its entrance by a vandal who ignorantly thought that because Islam prohibits the consumption of pork products, Muslims must be scared of them. Just two years after the aforementioned incident, another thug smashed the windows of the mosque. This attack was followed by the spaying of the building's entrance wall with engine oil three months later.
As if all the hateful crimes weren't enough, a local far-right party known as the Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) has staged several protests outside the mosque in recent years. During the riots, they attacked the mosque's property and verbally abused worshippers.
In one of the DSSS events held outside the house of worship, its members hosted a lingerie fashion show in a bid to display "western values to muslims." This so-called protest saw attendees eat pork products as they burned pages of the holy Quran.