A German protestant theologian said that ‘radical’ bible groups are a bigger radicalisation threat to adolescents than Islamists, and downplayed the number of minors who have converted and left Germany to fight for Islamic State.
Harald Lamprecht, Christian theologian and sect commissioner for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony, in an interview with Der Morgenpost claims that “radical bible groups” are more of a risk to the youths of Saxony than Islamism.
During the interview, in which the theologian was asked to advise parents of how to look out for signs of Islamic radicalisation, he told parents “not to panic” and advised them, rather, to be more prepared to keep watch for warning signs of Christian radicalisation:
“As for the threat of Saxon youths, be prepared for radical Bible groups. They are a much bigger problem than Islamists.”
Downplaying the significance of the 810 young people nationally who have been radicalised by Salafists and Islamist propaganda online and have proceeded to leave Germany to join Islamic State, he pointed to the figures of radicalised youths in Saxony being in “low, single digits”.
Mr. Lamprecht, who speaks to the regional church’s three-quarters of a million members across 719 congregations, advised that interest in the Quran does not equate radicalisation and urged parents to teach their children “the difference between Islam and Islamism”.
Speaking to the German Evangelical News Agency after the Der Morgenpost interview, Mr. Lamprecht attempted to clarify his comments, stating that he did not mean to “equate the terrorist organisation with Christian fundamentalists”, but rather draw a comparison of how Bible study groups outside of mainstream Christianity “radically distort the Bible” with how Salafist groups “twist the Quran”.
He stated: “Such cases [of Christian radicalisation] are purely numerically up more frequently than the current three known cases of successful Islamist radicalisation in Saxony.”
However, the results of Islamic radicalisation and Christian radicalisation are vastly different. A joint study by the German interior ministry and the independent Institute for Criminology Research of Lower Saxony found that devout Muslims in Germany are more prone to violence than Christians.
German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported of the research’s findings that “the willingness to commit violent crimes grows” among young Muslims “the more religious they become”, whereas the opposite was true of Christians where “the willingness to commit violent crimes, such as armed robbery or assault and battery, among young Catholics and Protestants decreases with religious fervour”.
Germany has experienced a series of shocking Islamist-inspired attacks by radicalised youths including the stabbing of a police officer by a 15-year-old girl, the bombing of a Sikh temple by teenaged boys, and an axe attack on a train by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee.
The interview came following the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl identified as “Linda” who ran away from her home in Pulsnitz, Saxony, in early July. The parents fear that their daughter has attempted to join Islamic State.
It is believed that the Linda flew to Istanbul, Turkey, intending to travel along one of the various documented routes used by radicalised individuals to get to Syria. Just last year eight British girls travelled to Turkey and onwards to Syria on the so-called “jihadi bride trail”.
Prior to her disappearance family and friends noted that Linda had “changed”. She started to read the Quran, wore a headscarf and Islamic clothing, and told her sister that she converted to Islam.
It has been suggested that Linda was brainwashed by an Islamic State adherent via Facebook. Last year a senior female Islamic State commander who left the terror group has claimed the organisation has a specialised social media grooming unit, where fighters work in shifts to radicalise vulnerable young people online.
In 2014 Sabina Selimovic and Samra Kesinovic from neighbouring Austria were believed to have been radicalised by reading jihadist materials on the Internet and travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State.
The “poster pin-ups” for Jihad boasted of their lives with the terrorist organisation, but that was short-lived with both reportedly pregnant and longing to return home. Though their whereabouts are still unknown, it has been reported that both are now dead, Samra allegedly used as a sex slave by Islamic State before being killed while trying to flee.