Police raid against German Salafists

March 13

 

German police has started a raid against German Salafists in the States of Hesse and North-Rhine Westphalia. The German police focused its raid at cities such as Frankfurt am Main, Oberhausen, Gladbeck, Solingen und Wuppertal. The Ministry of Interior declared that more than twenty investigations have been initiated against suspects. The Minister of Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) describes the raid as an act against violent extremist individuals and extremist associative structures. The Ministry has banned the associations DawaFFM (Invitation Frankfurt am Main) and Al Nusrah, which is a sub group of the banned Millatu Ibrahim. These groups have been suspected to send radicalized Muslims to Mali and Syria to fight for Jihad.

 

Having observed the German Salafist movement, the Ministry suspects Salafist groups to propagate an aggressive rhetoric against the free democratic basic order. It is said, that the number of Salafists in Germany has doubled up to a number of 4500.

 

Moreover, German police reports the arrest of two militant Islamists in the cities of Bonn and Essen. Enea B. and Marco G. are suspected to plan a plot against Markus Beisicht, leader of the right-wing extremist party Pro North-Rhine Westphalia. According to the police, weapons and explosive chemical materials were found in the apartments of the suspects. Security experts expect a list of persons, who have been targeted by Islamists.

 

The Minister of Interior Friedrich sees no correlation between the arrests and the raid. In 2012, Salafists and the right-wing extremist Pro NRW have been clashing in the city of Solingen after an anti-Islam cartoon campaign of Pro NRW.

Islamic radicalism in Belgian cities

La Libre

09.03.2013

Following the discovery of some 70 Belgian Muslims to have departed to fight alongside the Syrian rebels, an editorial published by the Belgian newspaper La Libre brings the question of Islamic radicalism in Europe to the forefront. Lamfaluss focuses upon the Belgian urban space as a futile soil for the radicalisation of Muslims but emphasis that only a small number are affected by such influences

According to him, those who are prone to become radicals willing to take upon arms and fight elsewhere are members of Salafist networks who infiltrate mosques and prisons and belong to a generation of people who are neither home in Belgium nor their country of descent, or that of their parents.

Critiquing Salafism in the Netherlands

4 September 2012

 

Radio Netherlands Worldwide profiles Izzeddin Ruhulessin, a young convert to Islam, and his assessment of the Salafist movement in the Netherlands. According to the article, Salafism gained in prominence in the country in the years following the 2004 murder of film maker Theo van Gogh. Researcher Martijn de Koning attributes the popularity to “second and third generation immigrants who are looking for an alternative to the traditional Islam that was brought by their parents or grandparents from the countries of origin.”

Ruhulessin suggests that Salafism is now declining in popularity, with other Muslims irritated by the strict requirements for orthodoxy and emphasis on external appearance upheld by the movement. The dynamic is particularly visible online, which sees both a strong and popular Salafist presence in internet forums used by young Dutch Muslims, as well as an increasingly vocal critique on venues such as Face Book.

The Response to the Salafist Movement in Germany: Heavy on Populism, Light on Strategic Thinking

Many intelligence officials in Germany are baffled by the political response to the Salafist movement. As far as they are concerned, there is too much populism, not enough strategic thinking, and ineffective communication to boot. Albrecht Metzger reports.

At 6 a.m. on 14 June, a hundred-strong police unit advanced on the Millatu Ibrahim Mosque in Solingen and cleared the house of worship. Just a few hours later, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announced a ban on the eponymous association, whose members had expressed open allegiance to al-Qaeda, and had its Internet site removed from the web.

Abu Usama al-Gharib, who until a few months ago was a preacher at the mosque and is now thought to be in Egypt, posted an immediate reaction on his blog: “Until you believe in Allah alone there will clearly only be ENMITY AND HATRED FOREVER between you and us. You can’t ban Millatu Ibrahim. Because we carry Millatu Ibrahim in our hearts. Victory or martyrdom.”

The Islamic extremists have since fallen silent. But for how long? “The confrontation with Salafism has only just begun,” says Guido Steinberg, a specialist in terrorism at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin. “Millatu Ibrahim has openly issued propaganda for al-Qaeda. Dealing with the Salafists who advocate jihad but don’t express this publicly is much more difficult.”

Salafist Propaganda in Germany: Mass Conversions in Public Places

The Salafists are distributing copies of the Quran in Germany and making a big noise on the Internet about converting new followers to their cause. The country is now high up on the list of priorities for the Salafist movement, writes Josef Croitoru

Three hundred years ago, the Germans developed a custom of hailing the conversion of Muslims to the Christian faith with public church ceremonies. Today, the Salafists are doing the same thing – but the other way round: They are filming the conversion of Germans to Islam and posting the videos on the Internet as a sign of the victory of the “only true religion.” That’s what happened a few weeks ago in the Tauhid Mosque in the German town of Wiesbaden.

A number of Salafist preachers from Egypt and Kuwait traveled there to take part in a conference entitled, “Youth in the West: Hopes and fears.”

One of the high points from the hour-long YouTube video of the occasion is the conversion of a 26-year-old “German brother,” Fabian – it’s unclear whether or not he belonged to any faith beforehand. Fabian was apparently moved to convert by a book he’d been given about the prophets. He took the Islamic statement of faith from none other than Muhammad al Zoghby.

The Egyptian religious scholar is one of the most influential Salafist preachers. He travels constantly around the Gulf States and other Arab countries, and he presents his own show on the conservative Saudi religious channel “Al-Khalijia”. He also regularly visits the west. On his website he writes about his latest European tour, which took him to Frankfurt and to Barcelona, and he claims to have converted “numerous Christians” along the way.

Salafist Activism in Germany

April 13/ May 8

 

This spring, Salafi activism and reactions to it have been at the centre of public attention in Germany.

 

At the end of April, the “Read the Koran” initiative took place: Salafi activists distributed free copies of the Koran to passers-by in several German cities. The event has triggered a discussion among German authorities on how to deal with the recent activities of the radical Islamist branch. Politicians and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution have expressed great concern about the Koran distribution initiative, interpreting it as propaganda and a destabilizing factor for religious peace. Journalists who were reporting about the Salafist activities were threatened by some Salafi adherents. The latter have also released intimidating videos on the internet platform You Tube.

 

Days later, as the date of elections of the German Federal State North RhineWestphalia was drawing close, the far right-wing movement (Pro NRW) has initiated a German wide “Muhammad cartoon contest”, displaying provoking Muhammad cartoons in front of mosques. On May 1st, Pro NRW gathered a group of its adherents in the German city of Solingen, and about thirty Salafi activists used this opportunity to protest against the anti-Islamic cartoons. The Salafi protest turned to violent confrontation, when some radical Islamists begun to attack German police by throwing stones and wielding poles from protest banners.

 

Confrontation escalated dramatically in Bonn on May 6th. Approximately 200 Salafists attacked about 30 far right-wing extremists, belonging to Pro NRW, who were showing posters of the Muhammad cartoons. More than 29 police men were injured through stone and knife attacks by violent Salafi. Rather than spontaneous, the Salafi counter protesters are said to have been mobilized in advance. The North RhineWestphalian Minister of Interior Ralf Jäger (SPD) called for strict legal consequences against the violent extremists and condemned the provocation of Pro NRW as an attempt of sedition against the four millions of peaceful Muslims in Germany.

 

 

The context: Salafi leaders and associations

 

There are about 4000 Salafi adherents in Germany, living all over the country but mostly in its Western regions, like North Rhine-Westphalia (Cologne, Moenchen-Gladbach, Iserlohn), as well as in Berlin.

 

Among leading figures for the movement there is Ibrahim Abou Nagie, a preacher and project initiator from Cologne. He is said to be a Palestinian from Gaza who migrated to Germany as student of electric engineering. He claims then to have made a multimillionaire fortune as a businessman but that he had changed his mind when he found the internet platform “The True Religion”. While he was one of the leaders of the campaign “Read the Koran”, he does not seem to be involved in the anti-cartoons demonstrations. German authorities regard his platform as one of the political strands of Salafism but suspect him to be close to violent Jihadi circles, radicalizing Muslims with hate speeches. Some of these hate speeches have called to execute homosexuals and called to persecute Jews.  Organization-wise, since 2005, Abou Nagie used the online platform “The True Religion” to preach and address young Muslims. He and other Salafi members invite young Muslims to become conscious about their religion. Skype conferences are also offered, to invite conversions and offer advice about religious jurisprudence.

 

Pierre Vogel is another central figure among the Salafi. He belongs to the political arm of Salafism refusing the Jihad approach in his official speeches. A former boxer, the German man converted to Islam and started preaching on You Tube, mainly addressing young Muslims with messages about the Sharia and whether the fundamental values of 7th Century Islam would be conform with today’s cultural and societal forms of life. He uses examples related to leisure time, disco, music, alcohol and unveiled women to attract the interest of young Muslims. Despite, or probably because of his popularity among younger Muslims, he has denied any active involvement in the recent Salafi actions. He has actually condemned the violence, while still supporting the spirit of the anti-cartoons protest.

 

A third important Salafist, the Austrian Islamist Muhammad Mahmud, has been deported at the end of April by the German State of Hessen. Mahmud, also known as Abu Usama al-Gharib (Name in Jihadi milieu), was convicted and found guilty of creating the German speaking branch of the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), an organization supporting and advertising the actions of Al Qaida in the media. He perceives himself as a neo-fundamentalist who would convert Germans to Salafi Islam.

 

Last, Sheikh Hassan Dabbagh who is an Imam and preacher of the Al-Rahman mosque in the German city of Leipzig. He uses the internet platform www.Salaf.de to speak about Islamic practice, family issues and the prophet Muhammad. He belongs to the political strand of Salafism and has criticized the Salafi protests appealing them to reject violence. Preaching the Islamic missionary approach of Dawa, he eschewed the recent escalation that would only serve German authorities and media to condemn the Salafi and isolate Islam from Germany.      

 

The association “Invitation to Paradise” was a center for mobilization and organization of Salafi activities. Social and cultural activities such as collective prayers, pilgrimages and protests against the ban of Burqa were organized in Cologne and Moenchen-Gladbach. Parts of its activities were webinars, which offered courses on Islamic studies. Together with other Salafi organizations, “Invitation to Paradise” became the object of a police investigation in the aftermaths of a terrorist attack in March 2011: two American soldiers had been shot by a self-radicalized young Islamist. Before the State authorities took any action to ban the association, “Invitation to Paradise” dissolved itself.

 

(Die Zeit Online PDF Version)

http://pdf.zeit.de/gesellschaft/2012-04/salafisten-koran-debatte.pdf

 

(Spiegel Online International – English Version)

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,830775,00.html

 

(Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution –Report Salafism)

http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/download/SHOW/broschuere_1204_salafistische_bestrebungen.pdf

 

(Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution –Report 2010)

http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/download/SHOW/vsbericht_2010.pdf

 

(Replaced webpage of “Invitation to Islam”)

https://www.muslimtube.de/

 

(Political Missionary Salafism)

www.salaf.de

 

(SWP Study 2012)

http://www.swp-berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/studien/2012_S05_dfr.pdf

 

German Islam Conference avoid issue on Salafism

April 18

 

The Federal Ministry of Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) has rejected the proposal of the Interior Minister of Lower Saxony Uwe Schünemann (CDU) to include the issue of Koran distribution by Salafist activists in the agenda for the upcoming Islam Conference.

Since the beginning of April, Salafist groups have been distributing free copies of the Koran in several German cities. Mr. Schünemann has called for an agreement against Salafism and proposed a strategic approach plan including anti-radicalization and prevention against Islamist Extremism and Terrorism. In his letter to the Federal Minister of Interior, he declares to expect Muslim associations to stand up united against what he calls an “instrumentalization of Islam”. Since the initiative of the former Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in 2006, domestic Security has become one of the main issues within other in the German Islam Conference.

Spain: The European heart of Salafism

La Razon – 31 March 2012
Police forces explained to La Razon that Salafism is implemented in Catalonia. According to police source, Imams of this branch of Islam lead three mosques in Barcelona and Terrassa, whose leader Abdeslam Laarusi will surely be charged with inciting violence against women. ((In the lawsuit, submitted to the chief judge of Terrassa, the prosecutor of Hate Crimes and Discrimination in Catalonia, Miguel Angel Aguilar, accused the imam of inciting to violence against women in his sermons in the mosque of Terrassa. After making the necessary investigations and analyze the recordings of sermons, the Office has considered that Abdeslam L. “I would be taking advantage of its status as a religious leader within the Muslim community in Terrassa to utter clearly discriminatory posts that make vulnerable the principle of equality and the right to physical and moral integrity of women,” describes the complaint.
http://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20120321/54275839401/fiscal-querella-iman-terrassa.html
)) In Tarragona Salafi Imams alone control five mosques. Islamic terrorism in Catalonia seems controlled, but it is a latent danger. The numbers show it. According to La Razon, Catalonia has more than 400,000 Muslims and 20% of them follow the most radical precepts.
The leader of the Cultural Association Al-Hilal of Salt, Rachid Menda, ((Rachid Menda, Imam of Salt is aggregated to Salafism, in Spain, which preaches non-integration of Muslims in the “corrupt” Western society and allies also in the spread of the radical stream of Islam namely through the online dissemination.
Rachid Menda is has not yet attained age 30 and he is the Imam of Salt, which has 30,000 inhabitants where about 5,000 are immigrants of Muslim origin, most of them Moroccans.
In his radical discourse, Menda often leads to ask for the “Mujahideen” fighting in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to the troops in Europe and America.
http://juandeherat.blogspot.com/2011/03/mohammed-attaouil-y-rachid-menda.html
)) is considered one of the leaders of Salafism in Spain. All these data make Catalonia’s largest stronghold of Salafism in Europe.
Another significant fact is that one of the masterminds of the bombing of the Twin Towers and one of his executors, Mohamed Atta, spent time in Tarragona.
The Salafist imam of the mosque of Reus, Tabdelhamid Aim The Hyat, ((The Imam with more followers of Reus, Tabdelhamid Aim The Hyat, aligned with the current Salafi, has threatened to remove the Muslim population into the streets, “in the province of Tarragona” if the Government fails to rectify and remove fines upon North Africans immigrants who had incorrectly used a subside designed to promote their integration in Spain.The Hyat has appeared in various media as one of the more radical Imams working in Spain. Of Dutch origin, he frequents Salafi conferences that proliferate every year in Spain.
http://www.abc.es/20120227/espana/abci-cataluna-detecta-cobros-ilicitos-201202270954.html
)) was denounced by moderate Muslims, who testified that he coerced and made them pay a “revolutionary tax” in the style of ETA.
He is not the only radical Salafist imam controlled by security forces. The more mediatic is Houzl Abdelwahab, ((Salafist Imam of the mosque of the Lerida Street Nord, Abdelwahab Houzi, known for its radicalism, has managed to bring together more than 3,500 Muslims to close the Ramadan. Speaking in Arabic, the imam of Lerida, which maintains frequent conflicts with local authorities, has managed to use the end of Ramadan to become a reference of Salafism in Spain, a current reactionary reformist shared by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Ana Ortiz, an analyst at Strategic Studies Group, described the presence of this fundamentalist stream in Spain:
“The common denominator of those who are supposedly involved in jihadist terrorism in our country responds to the profile of male, between 26 and 40 years, legal immigrants of North African origin. They are located in Madrid, Barcelona and Levante.
It should be clear that the vast majority of Moroccan immigrants, both in Catalonia and the rest of Spain, practice a more tolerant and open Islam than the Salafist groups.
The work of the new Imams that are settling in the area is to try to radicalize these groups to be locked in their community and their religion, and demonize any form of integration in society.
The police estimated that only in Catalonia there are between 12 and 15 Salafist mosques, considered very active.
The security forces claim that the modus operandi of these new Salafist Imams is to discredit the local imam.
http://www.hazteoir.org/node/32678
)) Imam from the mosque of Lerida. He is accused by the police of having promoted a kind of “religious police” who controls the “good behavior” of every Muslim. Houzl frequently send messages in their sermons of hate for Spain and the West. He is accused by the police of physical abuse and polygamy. ((Lérida’s imam Abdelwahab Houzi is promoting the deployment of “religious police” in various municipalities, including Olot, similar to the one he created in the city under his fanatic preachings. He uses that police to monitor and, where appropriate, punish, even physically, those Muslims who do not meet his fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law.
Mr Houzi has also defended polygamy and has made it clear he wants to take advantage of independentist parties to make Islamism grow in Catalonia.

http://www.abc.es/20101223/espana/iman-lerida-quiere-extender-20101223.html ))

Mohamed Mrabet Fahsi is the imam of the mosque in Vilanova (Barcelona) and spent seven years in prison. He was arrested in “Operation Jackal,” which dismantled a cell linked to terrorist attacks. The National Court accused him of funding jihadist networks and recruit young suicide individuals.

Arrest of Two German (Salafi) Muslims Disturbs Inter-Cultural Dialogue and Integration

02.08.2011

In Solingen, the beginning of Ramadan is clouded by the news that the two German Muslims, who were recently arrested on terror charges at the port of Dover (as reported), were originally from Solingen and members of a regional group of Salafis. Solingen’s Muslim communities distanced themselves from any radical Islamic tendencies and, instead, emphasized their interest in promoting successful integration. Eray Ünver, the Ditib’s local commissioner for integration and also responsible for the local inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, criticized that news about arrests of radical Muslims disrupt the process of dialogue and integration, as they trigger fear and feed prejudices. Similarly, members of the local Islamic Center distanced themselves from radical preachers such as (Salafist) Pierre Vogel.

One year without mosque in Lleida

July 18, 2011

Lleida’s North Street mosque continues to be closed one year after the local government, finding the place of worship did not fulfil the safety requirements, decided to shut it down on July 2010. The relationship between the imam of the Salafi Islamic community and the city council has deteriorated because of the lack of a solution or an alternative place. Currently, the Muslim community continues without a place of worship using one public park for their religious practices.

 

More information about Lleida’s mosque controversy on Euro-Islam website:

Lleida’s mayor urged to seek another location for the Salafist mosque

Lleida mosque construction

Lleida City Council will not provide land to build a mosque