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Germany

Bavaria Shuts Islamic Center, Citing Dangers

Amid debate over how best to prevent terrorism while protecting civil liberties, one German state has banned an Islamic group, and an official from another state suggested electronically tagging militants

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The cultural center's fame spread with el-Masri's abduction

Authorities in the German state of Bavaria banned an Islamic group Wednesday, after seizing material allegedly inciting

Muslims to kill Jews and Christians and carry out suicide attacks in Iraq.

Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein shut down the governing committee of the Islamic center Multi-Kultur-Haus. The move came in the wake of the CIA abduction of Lebanese-German Khaled el-Masri, who was known to have frequented the center.

The state said the activities of the Multi-Kultur-Haus association, in the city of Neu-Ulm, threatened the coexistence of Germans and foreigners as well as security in the country. Beckstein said the Islamic group had openly called for "holy war" and violence against those who didn't share ist beliefs.

Polizeirazzia gegen Islamisten Multikulturzentrum in Neu-Ulm

The center was searched in January, when 14 people were arrested

On Wednesday, Beckstein seized the center's assets and banned its governing body. It was the latest move against Islamists around the towns of Neu-Ulm and its partner city Ulm.

Death-preaching school books

Security forces had been observing the Multi-Kultur-Haus for years. The center had been searched on several previous occasions. Militants from the group had already been deported in February and June, and in September a search of the premises turned up enough material to warrant banning the group, Beckstein said. This included recordings of calls for suicide bombings, and a demand for school books preaching death for non-Muslims.

Beckstein said officials will continue to "keep an eye on" the Islamic scene in Ulm and Neu-Ulm, and take measures against the buildup of any organization aiming to replace the Multi-Kulti-Haus and spread its message.

Kompetenzteam CDU: Günther Beckstein, Porträt

Günther Beckstein

"Organizations that aggressively try to oppose our constitutional order and openly call for violence will not be tolerated," Beckstein said. But he added that the searches turned up no concrete plans for attacks.

El-Masri, a German citizen suing the CIA for allegedly kidnapping him and taking him to Afghanistan, acknowledged visiting the group's office. Al-Masri's case has stoked debate about how to prevent terrorist attacks while safeguarding civil liberties.

Tagging extremists

Meanwhile, in remarks published Wednesday, Uwe Schünemann, interior minister of Lower Saxony state, suggested placing electronic tags on foreign extremists who can't be deported, to keep them under observation.

The move would "allow us to monitor 3,000 potentially dangerous Islamists, hate preachers, and people who had been trained in foreign terrorist camps," Schünemann told the newspaper Die Welt on Wednesday

He said an electronic ankle bracelet could easily be assimilated into the law pertaining to foreigners, and denied such a move would be unconstitutional.

"Electronic ankle bracelets would be practical for Islamic militants who threaten German society, but whom we cannot return to their home countries because they might be tortured there," said. Schünemann. "If they leave these areas, there would be a warning signal," he said.

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