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Germany

German MP slammed for criticism of raids on Salafists

The German government's commissioner for integration is under fire for allegedly criticizing security forces. Aydan Özoguz called for "a sense of proportion" in taking action against Islamists in Germany.

Social Democrat parliamentarian Aydan Özoguz on Wednesday qualified remarks she made following nationwide raids against fundamentalist Salafist Muslims, after facing severe rebukes for her alleged criticism of security forces.

"I do not wish to be misunderstood: I have great confidence in the work of our security authorities," Özoguz said in Berlin. "Every successful blow struck against radical Salafists is important, and a big success in the fight against religious extremism."

However, she still warned that raids on their own could not "prevent the radicalization of young people in particular," saying that the fight against Islamists could be won only through preventive work carried out together with Muslims.

Her remarks came after she was vehemently criticized by several conservative lawmakers and the police union for comments on Tuesday in which she called for "a greater sense of proportion" in security actions undertaken against Islamists, saying the impression that authorities were arbitrarily entering mosques should be avoided.

Police raid in Duisburg (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kusch)

Police have stepped up action against suspected radicals

Speaking to German TV broadcaster Phoenix, she also questioned the efficacy of raids by German police on Tuesday on some 200 homes and offices across 10 federal states belonging to or used by members of the Salafist group. The DWR group espouses a fundamentalist version of Islam that is seen by many as repressive or even as advocating religious violence.

Police angered

The German police union was among those to react to Özoguz' comments with outrage.

"I cannot believe how this woman is stabbing the interior minister and the security authorities in the back," said union chairman Rainer Wendt in an interview with the Funke media group published on Wednesday.

"Ms. Özoguz speaks of arbitrariness - I have never experienced something like that," he said, and called for a "clarifying word" from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The secretary general of Merkel's Christian Democrats, Peter Tauber, told the mass-circulation "Bild" newspaper that it was not a sense of proportion that was needed against Islamists, but "the full rigor of the law."

"Instead of thanking our security authorities for their outstanding work, Ms. Özoguz is kicking them in the shins," he said.

'Misconceived tolerance'

Gerda Hasselfeldt from the Christian Democrat's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, also laid into Özoguz, saying she had demonstrated a "misconceived tolerance" that was "completely out of place."

Tuesday's raids targeted the Salafist group "The True Religion" (DWR), which had previously been banned by the Interior Ministry.

Germany has stepped up action against Islamic fundamentalists following a number of religiously inspired terrorist attacks both in Germany and abroad.

Watch video 00:53

Police raid 200 properties in Germany as government bans Islamist group

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tj/msh (epd, dpa, AFP)

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