Why is Germany intensifying its crackdown on Islamic groups?

German police in 60 cities staged raids this morning, banning the Islamist group True Religion, which they allege has been recruiting for the Islamic State.

Oliver Berg/dpa via AP
Police officers leave a residential house which has been searched in Bonn, western Germany, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. Hundreds of police officers searched about 190 offices, mosques and apartments of members and supporters of the Islamic group “The true religion” in Germany after the German government announced a ban of the organization early Tuesday.

German police raided nearly 200 mosques, apartments, and offices connected to an Islamic religious group Tuesday after receiving information that its members served as a recruiting unit for the Islamic State.

The sweep was part of a larger effort by Germany over the last few months to crack down on radicals as concerns of homegrown terrorism in the nation and in nearby European countries grows. Targeting the group True Religion, police sought group members across 60 cities in Tuesday’s raids, but did not make any arrests or locate the group’s leader, who they believe lives in Bonn. Officials announced later that day that the group would be banned from further operations in Germany.

“Today's measure is a clear signal, we are taking decisive and comprehensive action against all efforts directed against our freedom and our fundamental values,”  German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said.

The group is widely visible and known for running information tables and distributing free copies of the Quran. Despite its appearance as a legitimate religious organization, officials say True Religion has recruited some 140 young people to fight in Syria, and focuses its attention on Muslim teenagers, glorifying terrorism and a struggle against the German constitution in his meetings and video messages.

The ban is the second largest on an Islamic group in Germany’s history, following a 2001 decision to bar a group known as “caliphate state” on grounds that their activity threatened the nation’s democracy. Leaders stressed that the ban was not meant as an attack on Muslims or religious freedom, but as a strong, united stance against radicalization and terror.

“Today's ban does not target the promotion, practice or propagation of the Islamic faith in general,” de Maizière said. “Muslim life has a permanent and secure place in Germany and in our society.”

Still, the group fired back against the government, claiming that its purpose was to share the Quran’s message.

“The Quran was banned in Germany. We provided Allah’s message to everyone. Allahu akbar,” True Religion wrote on Twitter following the raids.

The ban follows the arrests last week of five men who authorities say aided ISIS by recruiting new members. They face accusations of providing financial and logistical assistance to potential fighters.

Officials believe that more than 800 people in Germany have been recruited by ISIS in recent years, and that up to a third of those may have returned to the nation since, prompting officials to take a strong stance against both the extremist ideology and the logistical operation of groups who support it.

"We don't want terrorism in Germany ... and we don't want to export terrorism," de Maiziere said.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why is Germany intensifying its crackdown on Islamic groups?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today