Islamist Group “True Religion” Banned in Germany

Quran Cover

“True Religion” is a German organization that is known for distributing German-language copies of the Quran. On Tuesday, they were accused of recruiting jihadists to fight in Iraq and Syria. The organization propagates a fundamentalist Sunni Islam of the Salafi School. True Religion has around 500 members in Germany. The True Religion group was created by Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, a Palestinian-born preacher, in 2005. He has been on the radar of German security officials since 2005, when he set up a website that officials say spreads extremist propaganda. 

On Tuesday, the organization, also known as Read (as in the instruction, to read the Quran) had been banned by the government.  “The organization brings Islamic jihadists together under the pretext of the harmless distribution of the Quran,” Mr. de Maizière told reporters in Berlin, stressing that the authorities were acting against the group because of its work to foster violence, not because of its faith. “Today's ban is rather directed against the abuse of religion by people propagating extremist ideologies and supporting terrorist organizations under the pretext of Islam,” Maizière said.

These measures came after months of surveillance of the organization. Mr. de Maizière said that 140 of the group’s supporters are known to have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight on behalf of the Islamic State. Quran translations were distributed together with messages of hatred and unconstitutional ideologies, according to Mr. de Maizière and he is sure that teenagers are being radicalized with conspiracy theories in those translations.

The True Religion group is the sixth Islamist organization to be banned in Germany since 2012, under an effort to ensure domestic security and to prevent radicalized young people from leaving the country to fight for extremists abroad.

The authorities arrested five men a week before this move who were accused of aiding the Islamic State in Germany by recruiting members and providing financial and logistical help. Most of the nearly one million migrants and refugees who arrived in Germany last year were Muslims.

On the one side, there are radical Muslim groups committing terrorist acts; on the other side the German authorities are working to stop violence by far-right extremists. In 2015 there was a 42 percent increase in the number of violent acts committed by the far right.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under pressure to harden her line on security after several attacks claimed by Islamic State across Europe, including a bombing and a knifing in Germany that wounded some 20 people in July.

Fears about the number of migrants entering the country (about 900,000 migrants, last year) have boosted support for Alternative for Germany (AfD) that says Islam is incompatible with the constitution and has siphoned off support from Merkel's conservatives.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia

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