Campaign plans Koran for every home

Wed, Apr 18, 2012, 01:00

A DRIVE by a fundamentalist Muslim group to give a copy of the Koran to every German, Swiss and Austrian household has tapped into widespread anti-Islamic feeling in Germany and created an uproar among politicians and security officials concerned that the group handing out the holy books is using the campaign as a cover to recruit radicals.

There is nothing illegal about distributing religious works in Germany but officials are worried about who is doing the distributing. The Koran campaign is the brainchild of Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, a Palestinian who preaches a brand of Islam known as Salafism. Mr Abou-Nagie, who has lived in Germany for 30 years, has been on the radar of German security officials since 2005, when he set up a website that has been suspected of spreading extremist propaganda. An attempt to prosecute Mr Abou-Nagie on charges of incitement of religious hatred failed this year.

The campaign to hand out the Koran drew widespread condemnation last week after journalists who had criticised the effort were threatened in an online video.

And on Monday, the interior minister in Hesse, a state in central Germany, called Mr Abou-Nagie and his followers “pied pipers”.

A German security official who did not want to be quoted by name said officials were worried that disaffected, directionless young people would be drawn to what he called the Salafists’ simplistic interpretation of the Koran and find inspiration in it for violent acts.

He cited Arid Uka, who opened fire at a bus carrying US airmen at a Frankfurt airport in March 2011, killing two and wounding two others. Uka, who was born in Kosovo but had lived in Germany since he was a child, said he had become radicalised by reading websites, including some linked to Salafist groups in Germany. – (New York Times service)