BERLIN - Fearing more turbulence, Germany has postponed at the last minute a poster campaign advertising a hotline aimed at fighting radicalism, amid world fury over a film defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
"With everything that is going on right now, we're afraid that it wouldn't take much to trigger more religiously motivated violence," an interior ministry spokesman told Reuters Thursday, September 20.
"We're talking specifically about fanatic individuals who could use events they perceive as being Islamophobic as an opportunity to take action."
The German government has planned a poster campaign to publicize a hotline that people can turn to if they think people close to them are showing signs of radicalization.
The posters show four fictitious missing persons - Hassan, Fatima, German convert Tim and Ahmed - with accompanying messages from people concerned about the subject being a victim of radicalization.
The posters had been due to go up in German cities with large immigrant populations from Friday.
The interior ministry, however, still plans to place advertisements online and in magazines with the same design as the posters.
German Muslim groups have criticized the poster campaign for stigmatizing the sizable religious minority.
The postponement comes amid a fury in the Muslim world over an American-made film insulting Prophet Muhammad.
Titled Innocence of Muslims, the film, produced by an American-Israeli real estate developer, portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur'an.
The film has triggered violent protests in the Middle East, which left at least 14 people dead, including the US ambassador in Libya.
Last week, the German government banned the US pastor from entering Germany, after Pro-Deutschland sought to invite him.
Meanwhile, a German foundation has cancelled plans to screen excerpts of the offensive film of Prophet Muhammad.
"Due to the controversial discussions and emotions Cinema for Peace will do without the clips from 'Innocence of Muslims', because the foundation does not want to support any further reactions or a further circulation of the film," Berlin's Cinema for Peace Foundation said.
The foundation had said earlier it wanted to foster a "lively but peaceful" debate on free speech and films that incite religious hatred by screening it and other movies on October 1.
The foundation, which focuses on humanitarian and environmental issues, said it still might use parts of other films, including the Dutch film "Submission", which alleges women discrimination under Islam.
It also plans to show parts of Veit Harlan's 1940 anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film "Jud Suess" and Kevin Smith's "Dogma", a satire about Catholicism.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian experts as well as politicians would take place in a debate on freedom of speech and blasphemous films, it said.
Last week, a far-right German group known as Pro-Deutschland unveiled plans to the anti-prophet film in Berlin but had not found a cinema prepared to show it.
The plans by the far-right group have sparked debates in Germany about banning the film to avoid hurting Muslim feelings.
Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5 percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.
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 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."