German Muslims invite all faiths to day of prayer against ISIS
More than 2,000 German mosques have invited Germans of all religions to join their Friday prayers to present a united front against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to try to dissuade young Muslims from travelling to fight with radical Islamists in Syria and Iraq.
Germany’s four main Muslim groups announced their plan on Tuesday in response to concerns that German Muslims are joining ISIS and returning home with radical ideas and combat experience, posing a domestic security threat.
“We want to make clear terrorists and criminals do not speak in the name of Islam, they have trampled on the commandments of our religion, and that murderers and criminals have no place in our ranks, in our religion,” the head of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, told a news conference in Berlin.
The groups are also organising peace rallies across Germany on the same day which senior officials, including Interior Minister de Maiziere and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, are expected to attend.
Authorities estimate 400 Germans have joined IS in Iraq and Syria. De Maiziere, announcing a ban on the group last week, urged the country’s 4 million Muslims to be vigilant about IS recruitment, especially on the Internet.
A 20-year-old man charged with joining IS in Syria went on trial in Frankfurt on Monday, the first such case in Germany.
Ali Kizilkaya, a spokesman for the umbrella group behind Friday’s initiative, said the Muslim community needed the support of the rest of German society to stop the radicalisation of young Muslims.
“They are our youngsters. Everyone that leaves is not only a loss for Muslims, it’s a loss for the whole society,” he said.
Germany’s Jewish community has suffered anti-Semitic attacks by some Muslim hardliners this year, especially during the fighting in Gaza – leading politicians like Chancellor Angela Merkel to warn against a rise in anti-Semitism.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who was in Berlin pushing for the prosecution of a Danish imam for anti-Semitic comments made in Germany, said Islamic State is making it “cool for young people” to join the jihad.