Germany targets radical Salafists in nationwide raids

AFP , Thursday 14 Jun 2012

Police in Germany carries out several raids on Islamic Salafists groups and 70 premises including flats, mosques, schools and local association

Policemen take into custody a supporter of the Salafist movement on May 1, 2012 during a demonstration in Solingen, western Germany. (File Photo: AFP)

German police carried out raids in seven different regional states early Thursday targeting individuals suspected of belonging to radical Islamic Salafist groups, the interior ministry said.

At the same time, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich banned one particular network known as "Millatu Ibrahim".

Three ultra-conservative Muslim organisations were targeted in the raids, a ministry spokesman said, without providing any further details.

Some 70 different premises were raided, including flats, mosques, schools and local associations, with the biggest operations taking place in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse, the ministry said.

In a statement, the regional state interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ralf Jaeger, described the police operation as a "decisive step by the security services in the fight against dangerous extremists."

"Today's operation shows that we're turning up the pressure on the Salafists," Jaeger said.

At the beginning of May, German authorities opened a probe against 44 members of the Islamic Salafist community and 37 others after violent clashes with police in the western town of Solingen.

The Salafists have raised concern with their drive to convert non-Muslims, a campaign that has involved handing out 25 million copies of the Koran in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Authorities estimate there are about 2,500 Salafists in Germany. They espouse an austere form of Sunni Islam, but officials in Germany accuse them of also condoning violence against state institutions.

Short link: