Friedrich’s “Prevention Summit”

24.06.2011/ 25.06.2011
Earlier this year (as reported), German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich invited Muslim groups and security services to a meeting to discuss strategies for fighting Islamic radicalism and preventing further radicalisation. What has come to be called the “prevention summit”, in which the Interior Minister met with Muslim community leaders, politicians, and representatives of the police and German security services, was held by Interior Ministry on June 24th.

During the meeting, Friedrich called for the highest vigilance within society against the radicalisation of young people by Islamic radicals. According to him, Muslim citizens and residents can play an especially important role in the prevention of radicalisation, by counteracting radical tendencies in the private sphere, clubs, and religious meetings. More specifically, Friedrich urged Muslim families to help prevent young Muslims from turning into jihadists by being “observant about what their children are up to and how they are changing” (DW News). Overall, he aimed at initiating a “security partnership” (Stern) between security services, Muslims in Germany, and Muslim associations.

Both the political opposition as well as several Muslim organisations criticized the meeting for its specific focus on the radicalisation of Muslims, which bears the risk of stigmatizing the entire Muslim community in Germany. Parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, Thomas Oppermann, for instance, called for increasing support of moderate Muslims to isolate those who are prone to violence (DW News). Similarly, Muslim organisations, such as the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, are sceptical about the meeting’s focus. Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, who had already voiced his concern ahead of the meeting (as reported), argues for a clear distinction between Muslims and extremism. According to Mazyek, by dedicating a conference to Muslim radicalism, the small group of radicals in Germany are merely strengthened. Instead, the government needed to work harder to make Muslims feel “at home” in Germany and to campaign against Islamophobia (Stern). Mazyek also called for the improvement of integration measures, as a lack of integration was a main cause for radicalization. Similar criticism was voiced by Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, who questioned the purpose of the summit. Both Kolat and Mazyek point to the already existing security stream within the Islam Conference; they are concerned that a strengthening of the security aspect of the dialogue between German Muslims and the government may reinforce a general suspicion against Muslims in Germany.