- (Photo: REUTERS/Noor Khamis)
An Islamic ultra-conservative party in Germany is handing out 25 million free copies of the Quran in what is seen by some as an attempt to recruit jihadist, or Muslim holy warriors.
Salafist Muslims have already given out 300,000 free copies of the Muslim holy book, the BBC reported, and plan to reach tens of millions of people in Germany.
One of the group's preachers, Ibrahim Abou Nagie, has apparently said that the initiative is an attempt to save non-Muslims from hell, but is being condemned by concerned German authorities.
Politicians are being weary not so much of the distribution of the Qurans, but the Salafist group that is handing them out. According to Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the country's domestic intelligence agency, up to 5,000 Salafists currently reside in the Western European country. What is more, the Federal Office believes the group's ideology is linked to al-Qaida, and their mission is to recruit holy warriors to fight for Islam, Spiegel Online reported.
"I strongly condemn this initiative," said Volker Kauder, the parliamentary group leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.
"The [Quran] is being abused here for subversive extremist activities. Muslim groups in Germany are right in distancing themselves from this abuse of religious liberty," Kauder added at a news conference.
Opposition Green Party co-leader Cem Özdemir also saw a danger in the Quran-distributing initiative.
"I have a problem with all religious groups that place their world view above the constitution and above human rights. That applies as well to those Salafists who invoke violence and whose ideology fuels Islamist terrorism," Özdemir said.
"Not all Salafists are terrorists" explained Heinz Fromm, president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, last summer. "But almost all the terrorists we know about had contacts with Salafists or are Salafists themselves."
The German publisher making copies of the holy book said on Thursday that it might stop production due to controversy over their distribution.