German authorities raid mosques and flats, ban Islamist group

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 15, 2016 2:23 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Police launched dawn raids on about 190 mosques, flats and offices linked to an Islamist group in Germany on Tuesday as the government banned the organization, accusing it of radicalising youngsters, the interior ministry said.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the DWR 'True Religion' organization had contacted young people as it distributed Korans and other religious material, and had persuaded about 140 of them to join militants in Iraq and Syria.

DWR made no reference to the raids on its website and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced pressure to harden her line on security after a string of attacks claimed by Islamic State across Europe and criticism of her decision to let in about 900,000 migrants last year.

"Today's ban is not directed against the distribution of the Koran or translations of the Koran," de Maiziere told reporters.

"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." The group had several hundred members, he added.

Concern over the number of migrants 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 now prohibited from taking part in information and distribution campaigns.

De Maiziere said Tuesday's actions across 10 German states were the biggest crackdown on a group since the government shut down a movement known as Kalifatstaat (Caliphate State) in 2001, accusing it of "extremist activities".

The government has also banned five other organization accused of having Islamist-Jihadist aspirations since 2012.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley and Madeline Chambers; Additional reporting by Gernot Heller; Editing by Andrew Heavens)