Conflict with Far-Right Party – Young German Muslims Defend Right to Protest

Source: Spiegel International

By Hubert Gude, Souad Mekhennet and Christoph Scheuermann


A debate about violent Salafists has erupted in Germany after radical Muslims clashed with supporters of the anti-Islamic Pro NRW party during its recent election campaign. Three young Muslims who took part in a demonstration against the party in Cologne described their pious worldview to SPIEGEL.

After the water cannons have withdrawn and the Muhammad cartoons have been stowed away, three young men get into a car in front of Cologne’s main train station. They are bearded and have the look of religious men. They seem somewhat dissatisfied.

Malik says: “It’s sad and humiliating that so few people came.”

Martin says: “Brother, it’s Tuesday afternoon. Many of us work.”

Koray shrugs his shoulders. He took the day off, he says, so why shouldn’t other people do the same?

Furious and Speechless

Malik, Martin and Koray had left Hamburg in the morning to protest in Cologne against the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that members of the right-wing extremist party Pro NRW intended to display in front of a mosque. Against the will of the police, the Cologne Administrative Court had approved the display of the drawings made by the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. One of his drawings was among a series of cartoons published by Danish newspapers in 2005 that led to worldwide protests by Muslims, who were offended by the pictures. Many Muslims believe that visual depictions of Muhammad should be prohibited.

Malik, Martin and Koray were furious and speechless at the judges’ decision. They went to Cologne fearing that there would be injuries again, as there had been in two other nearby cities, Solingen and Bonn, a few days earlier.

In those incidents, furious young men with beards and dressed in long robes, hoodies and camouflage jackets had assaulted members of Pro NRW and the police. In Bonn, they were armed with wooden slats and stones, and 29 officers were injured, including two who were hospitalized with severe stab wounds. Murat K., the suspected knife attacker, is now in custody. Police arrested a total of 109 protesters.

Germany is now embroiled in a debate over violent Muslims. Politicians and federal security officials see a new form of aggression taking shape, and some are asking themselves whether radical youth invoking Islam could instigate an uprising in Germany.

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Categories: Europe, Germany, Islamophobia

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