A Nigerian Roman Catholic priest has been forced to leave his parish in Germany after a series of racist attacks including death threats.
In a statement released on Friday, Bishop Andreas Sturm of the diocese of Speyer said Patrick Asomugha will step down from his parish in Queidersbach, in the western part of the country on Monday after “massive” intimidation against him.
The hostility towards Asomugha began in mid 2019.
The presbytery in Queidersbach, a town of 3,000 inhabitants, suffered significant property damage after two break-ins and the tyres on the priest’s car were slashed.
In March 2020, unknown persons placed a death threat on the door of his garage.
“Under these circumstances, I can no longer fulfil my duties as a priest in Queidersbach,” said Asomugha, who had been head of the parish of Saint Francis of Assisi since August 2017.
The source of the threats has not been identified, leaving the church with little option.
“It would be irresponsible to continue exposing Father Asomugha to the threat,” said the diocese.
The local Catholic youth organisation expressed their “deep shame” and said it was “horrified to see that because of their skin color, origin or other characteristics, people can no longer exercise their professional activity or have to leave their employment.”
The pastor will remain within the diocese of Speyer but will transfer to another mission.
In 2016, a German-Congolese Catholic priest left his Bavarian parish to protest against the racist attacks against him, also punctuated by death threats, due to his support for the reception of foreign refugees.
Germany is undergoing an upsurge in anti-migrant feeling, linked with the rise of the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party which is now the main opposition force in the Bundestag with 89 elected officials.
In February, 12 men were arrested across Germany on suspicion of planning attacks on mosques and a week later a racist gunman killed nine people in a lone attack in Hanau.
Two people died in an attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle last October and a pro-migrant politician was murdered at his home in June 2019.