A conservative Islamist group plans to hand out tens of millions of copies of the Koran in Germany this weekend. Leading political figures have criticized the move.
Regional politicians on Wednesday slammed a reported plan by an Islamist group to give away up to 25 million free copies of the Koran translated into German in the country's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia. Although the act is not illegal, they said such actions were incompatible with German values.
"This aggressive project has got to be stopped if possible," said Guenter Krings, deputy parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU).
"I have nothing in principle against spreading religious scriptures,” he told the Rheinische Post newspaper. But he added, "The radical group of Salafists are disturbing the religious peace in our country."
“What is claimed to be a pure giveaway programme is in reality the subtle spreading of Salafist ideology," a spokesperson for the state's Interior Ministry in Dusseldorf also said.
Interior authorities said anti-subversion officials would “monitor” the distribution of the free copies by the Salafist group named “The True Religion” in the Western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia because of the group's religious principles.
Salafists are ultra-conservative Islamists, who emphasise the Salaf (meaning “ancestors," a reference to the earliest Muslims) as model practitioners of the religion. They advocate a return to an earlier, purer and stricter form of Islam. German officials claim that the most dangerous Islamists are followers of Salafism.
The group, which is estimated to comprise around 500 members in the western state, plans to distribute the copies of the Islamic holy book in several shopping centers, as well as prisons, schools, hospitals and mosques, in cities across the region on Saturday and Sunday. It will also offer access to a free Koran online.
sej/msh (dpa, Reuters)