German minister calls for total ban on Salafi Islam

German minister calls for total ban on Salafi Islam
Sigmar Gabriel, who has previously linked the rise of terrorism to Saudi Arabia, said Germany needed to conduct a 'cultural struggle' against the growth of fundamentalist Islam.
2 min read
08 January, 2017
The German government has recorded 9700 Salafi Muslims living in Germany [Getty]
Germany's Vice Chancellor called for a blanket closure of Salafi mosques on Friday, linking the ultra-conservative school of Islam to Islamic State's attack on Berlin's Christmas market.

Sigmar Gabriel called for a 'zero tolerance' attitude towards combating Islamist terrorism, adding that those who preach violence should forgo protections created under religious freedom laws.

"Salafist mosques must be banned, the communities dissolved and the preachers should be expelled, as soon as possible," he said in an interview with German weekly, Der Spiegel.

Calling for a "cultural struggle" against Islamist violence, the leader of the Social Democrat Party argued for increased expenditure on social programmes.

This includes ensuring that "urban areas are not neglected, villages do not fall into disrepair and people do not become more and more radicalised."

The chief suspect in the Berlin truck attack massacre, Anis Amri, who killed 12 people on 19 December, has been linked to Salafi preacher Abu Walaa.

Walaa was arrested in November along with a number of other Salafis for attempting to recruit German Muslims to join Islamic State.

Gabriel previously called on Saudi Arabia to stop financing fundamentalist mosques in 2015, linking them to a rise in terrorism.

"From Saudi Arabia, Wahhabi mosques are financed throughout the world," he said in an interview with the newspaper, Bild am Sonntag.

"In Germany many Islamists considered dangerous persons emerge from these communities."

Gabriel also touched on the issue of austerity, pointing out that Germany's insistence had created fundamental divisions in Europe, meaning that a collapse of the European Union was now a possibility.

According to national statistics, there are around 9700 people who identify as Salafi Muslims in Germany.

The Salafist movement is a fundamentalist branch of Islam that promotes a return to the early ways of Islam.

Gabriel's comments come as the country prepares for a parliamentary election some time between August and October.

The political mood in Germany has changed in recent months, with anti-immigration parties such as Alternative for Germany (AfD) polling well.