CAIRO - German police launched major swoops on Salafi Muslims in several states on Thursday, June 14, on claims of promoting extremism in the country, Der Spiegel newspaper reported.
"(The Millatu Ibrahim group) works against our constitutional order and against understanding between peoples," German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said.
"The organization acts in opposition to the idea of constitutional order and multicultural understanding.
German police raided more than 70 premises in several states, including mosques, flats, schools and local association.Germany's Road to Islamophobia
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Among the homes targeted was that of Salafi preacher Ibrahim Abu Nagie, who is associated with a campaign to distribute free copies of the Qur'an in the country.
Friedrich said that the group promotes violence in its "fight against existing constitutional order."
He added that two other Salafi groups have been placed under investigation in the hopes of finding enough evidence to be able to ban them as well.
Salafis are believed to number about 4,000 in Germany, which has a total Muslim population of some four million.
Salafis came under scrutiny in Germany following a campaign to hand out free copies of the Noble Qur'an to educate Germans about Qur'an.
The campaign has sparked fury from German politicians, who accused Salafis of seeking to spread radicalization in the country.
German officials argue that the swoop aims to fight extremism in the European country.
"Today's operation shows that we're turning up the pressure on the Salafists," Ralf Jaeger, the regional state interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, said in a statement.
He described the raids as a "decisive step by the security services in the fight against dangerous extremists."
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia saw clashes between Salafis and far-right Pro NRW party supporters last month 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 say that they joined the protest to defend the Prophet against satire.
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."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net