Press Review: Prohibition of the Salafist Group „Die Wahre Religion“

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The Salafist association “Die Wahre Religion” alias “Stiftung LIES” (“The True Religion” alias “Foundation LIES”) was prohibited by the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maiziere, in mid-November. During raids in ten different federate states, more than 200 flats were searched and about 20.000 Qurans were confiscated. What is Mathias Rohe’s opinion on the events?

“The prohibition of the network is to be welcomed”, states the founder of the Erlangen Center for Islam and Law in Europe in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. In an essay on the research project “Islam in Bavaria”, he states: “extremist positions pose a threat for the peaceful coexistence”. In the project, which is conducted by the EZIRE since 2015, Rohe and his research team observe the scope of Salafist streams in Bavaria. This scope, however, is hard to measure, since those involved rarely met in official mosques but rather in hermetic private circles. This problem also applied to associations as “Die Wahre Religion”: “These groups appear neutral and open in public”, Rohe is quoted by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “When they detect real interest, the radicalization process starts in the backroom.”
The internet also poses a platform for radicalization. Rohe, who is currently analyzing a Bavarian Youtube-Channel for its neo-Salafist contents, describes the online presence of Salafists in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “They almost show social-working skills. Those groups pick you up when you are in a difficult life phase.” Hence, Rohe appreciates the prohibition of “Die Wahre Religion”. But the Islamic scholar and Jurist also knows: “(…) They will find other plattforms.”

Meanwhile, Rohe strongly opposes the idea of destroying the 20.000 Qurans which have been secured during different raids. A better idea would be to store them and abandon them to their fate, since everything else might lead to irritations within the Muslim communities and could cause unnecessary ammunition, Rohe said in a talk with the broadcasting station Deutschlandradio Kultur. Even if a destruction of the books might be legitimized theologically, from a societal-political standpoint, it would be “very unwise”. And it would contradict the hopes of those destroying the books: According to Rohe, Salafist groups would only profit from such actions: “because, of course, they will make good use of it.”

Further information on “Islam in Bavaria” can be found on the project page and in the magazine Akademie Aktuell.