BERLIN – Germany banned Wednesday, March 13, three Salafi Muslim groups for what authorities say an ideology that runs counter to democracy.
"Salafism, as represented in the associations that were banned today, is incompatible with our free democratic order," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said in a statement cited by Reuters.
The ministry said it has banned the organizations "DawaFFM" and "Islamische Audios" and "An-Nussrah".
Some 20 people were searched and assets belonging to the organizations were seized.
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"(The groups) aim to change our society in an aggressive, belligerent way so that democracy would be replaced by a Salafist system, and the rule of law replaced by Shari`ah law,” Friedrich said.
He said the ban was part of efforts by Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right government to promote a tolerant and respectful relationship with the large number of peaceful Muslims in Germany.
An-Nussrah is part of the "Millatu Ibrahim" group, which was outlawed by German authorities in June.
Salafis has come under scrutiny in Germany following a campaign to hand out free copies of the Noble Qur’an to educate Germans about Qur’an last year.
The campaign has sparked fury from German politicians, who accused Salafis of seeking to spread radicalization in the country.
Last year, clashes erupted between Salafis and far-right Pro NRW party supporters in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia over a contest to draw cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
The far-right party, which has been categorized as an extremist right-wing group by the domestic intelligence agency, had planned to run a ‘Muhammad cartoon contest', referring to the Prophet.
A cash prize was also designed for the "best" anti-Islamic caricature, named after Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who was responsible for the 2005 cartoons which provoked anger in the Muslim world.
Angered by the cartoons, young Salafis joined the protest to defend the Prophet against satire.
Salafis are believed to number about 4,000 in Germany, which has a total Muslim population of some four million.
Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.
Germany’s daily Der Spiegel had warned last August that the country is becoming intolerant towards its Muslim minority.According to a 2010 nationwide poll by the research institute Infratest-dimap, more than one third of the respondents would prefer "a Germany without Islam."
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