Radical Salafist Islamists are infiltrating German asylum shelters and attempting to indoctrinate the new arrivals, a politician in the city of Bremen has warned. Senator Ulrich Mäurer said the prospect of radicalisation among young Muslim refugees was a growing threat given the sheer numbers of people arriving in the country.
The Salafist movement is an ultra-conservative orthodox stream within Sunni Islam that follows the doctrine known as Salafism. Adherents take a fundamentalist approach to Islam though literal translations of the Koran.
In January, Germany’s intelligence chief, Hans-George Maassen, said the number of active Salafists in the country had grown from 3,800 to 6,300 in three years, according to Deutsche Welle. Now they are trying to increase their number by approaching newly-arrived asylum seekers.
“We have in recent weeks increased seen attempts by Salafists to register as workers in refugee camps,” Mr Mäurer told the German news magazine Focus. He said they used the Salafi organisation “Islamic Cultural Centre” as cover, before rolling out prayer mats and offering Arabic-speaking men food and ideology. He estimated Bremen had around 360 of the extremists living in its precincts.
The State Office for Protection of the Constitution has warned that number could double by year-end if the movement was not stopped by asylum centre operators
“We have informed the operators, who shall thereupon issue such prohibitions”, said Mäurer. The city will also check so-called barring orders to prohibit Salafists from staying near migrant accommodation.
In “Guidelines for reception facilities in Bremen” the city outlines how caregivers can recognise radicalisation. Refugees stuck in an “identity crisis”, it states, leading to an “increased risk of receptiveness to Islamist ideology or to radicalise accordingly” will be especially vulnerable.
The head of German intelligence, Hans-Georg Maaßen, warned last month that radical Muslims in Germany are canvassing the refugee shelters looking for new recruits. He said:
“Many of the asylum seekers have a Sunni religious background. In Germany there is a Salafist scene that sees this as a breeding ground. We are observing that Salafists are appearing at the shelters disguised as volunteers and helpers, deliberately seeking contact with refugees to invite them to their mosques to recruit them to their cause.”
The editor of the newspaper Neue Westfälische, Ansgar Mönter, reports that Salafists in Bielefeld, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, have already infiltrated refugee centers in the area by bringing toys, fruits and vegetables for the migrants.
Mönter said “naïve” politicians are contributing to the radicalisation of refugees by asking Muslim umbrella groups in the country to reach out to the migrants.
Mönter points out that the main Muslim groups in Germany all adhere to fundamentalist interpretations of Islam and are anti-Western in outlook. Some groups have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood while others want to implement Sharia law in Germany. According to Mönter, politicians should prohibit these groups from establishing contact with the new migrants.