Germany bans Islamist group after police raids

BERLIN • German police have made sweeping raids across 10 states against an Islamist group suspected of propagating hate and inciting 140 youths to fight with militants in Syria and Iraq.

The group, called True Religion, is now banned, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said yesterday.

Experts say the German translation of the Quran distributed by the group is a particularly strict version of the original Arabic text. But Mr de Maiziere stressed that the raids were not targeted at the general distribution of the Quran, but against those who "abuse religion and who use it as a pretext to spread extremist ideology and to back terrorist organisations".

The ban is the biggest such prohibition in Germany targeting Islamist groups after another organisation called The Caliphate State was outlawed in 2001.

According to figures released in May by intelligence services, 820 militants have left Germany for Syria and Iraq. Almost a third have returned, while 140 were killed while abroad. Around 420 are still in Syria or Iraq.

Germany has so far been spared large-scale militant attacks. But it was shaken by two assaults claimed by terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and carried out by asylum seekers - an axe rampage on a train in Wuerzburg that injured five and a suicide bombing in Ansbach in which 15 people were hurt.

The police said last month they had foiled an alleged plot by a Syrian refugee to bomb a Berlin airport.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Germany bans Islamist group after police raids'. Print Edition | Subscribe