German police have launched dawn raids on about 190 mosques, flats and offices linked to an Islamic group as the government bans the organisation, accusing it of radicalising young people.
The interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said the DWR “True Religion” organisation had contacted young people as it distributed Qur’ans and other religious material, and had persuaded about 140 of them to join militants in Iraq and Syria.
DWR made no reference on its website to the raids and did not respond to a request for comment.
The chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been under pressure to harden her line on security after Islamic State claimed responsibility for a string of attacks across Europe and she faced criticism for her decision to let in about 900,000 migrants last year.
“Today’s ban is not directed against the distribution of the Qur’an or translations of the Qur’an,” De Maizière told reporters.
Thomas de Maizière.
Thomas de Maizière. Photograph: Rainer Jensen/AFP/Getty Images
“Today’s ban is rather directed against the abuse of religion by people propagating extremist ideologies and supporting terrorist organisations under the pretext of Islam.”
The group had several hundred members, he added.
Concern over the number of people entering the country has boosted support for Alternative for Germany, a populist party that says Islam is incompatible with the German constitution and has siphoned off support from Merkel’s conservatives.
A spokeswoman for the interior ministry said there was no indication that DWR was planning attacks itself. The ban means DWR is prohibited from taking part in information and distribution campaigns.theguardian