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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

German concerns rise over growing Salafist population

German officials believe the number of ideologically motivated Salafist adherents has doubled to more than 11,000 in just five years

A memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack on Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, Germany. Omer Messinger/ EPA
A memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack on Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, Germany. Omer Messinger/ EPA

A survey carried out by German states has found that Salafist Muslims are a rapidly growing community in the country, a finding that has triggered concerns that the potential pool of recruits for terror is expanding.

While many of those within the tradition repudiate political violence, the fundamentalist belief in maintaining the strict traditions of the faith has led a significant proportion of followers to embrace the use of force to promote those beliefs. The group represents a tiny proportion of the nearly five million Muslims in Germany.

For example officials in Hamburg said this week that of that state's 798 ideological Islamists, 434 have been classified as potential adherents to violence.

Intelligence agencies have warned that the Salafism community has fragmented as it grows and rising numbers of those have started conducting their activities in private spheres. The domestic intelligence agency warned last year that it was increasingly difficult to monitor these individuals.

Recruitment drives have shifted from the streets and mosques. Instead the Salafist hardliners had turned their attention to the conspiratorial forums based on the internet.

This activity was highly likely to act as a springboard into Islamist terrorism.

In a twist the agency also pointed to rising numbers of women's networks that had become active, posing a challenge to the authorities who find gaining access to those groups more difficult that with male discussions.

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