Big row over Islamist demonstration in Hamburg, Germany: Intelligence services are monitoring, but nobody can forbid it

A rally scheduled for today, Friday, in Hamburg, to which Islamists are also mobilising, has provoked harsh criticism. The Hamburg Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the AfD party called for a ban. “A well-fortified state must not allow radical Islamists to demonstrate unhindered on Hamburg’s streets for the abolition of freedom of the press and freedom of opinion after the cruel terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice and Vienna,” said Christoph de Vries, CDU Member of Parliament, on Thursday.

According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Al-Azhari Institute in Hamburg is also organizing the demonstration. The official purpose of the association behind the institute is to promote education and training in Islamic theology. “According to the knowledge of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, however, Islamist teaching content is actually being taught which is in clear contradiction to the canon of values of the Basic Law”. There is also talk of a basic Islamist orientation.

The motto of the demonstration is: “Against disrespect to our Prophet Muhammad”. According to information from the CDU, the appeal to demonstrate is also explicitly directed against the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”, which the Office for the Protection of the Constitution did not confirm, however. In early 2015, the magazine had been the target of a terrorist attack in which eleven people were killed. A trial against alleged accomplices is currently underway in Paris.

Already on November 8th, the Al-Azahri Institute had called for a demonstration with about 270 participants under the motto “We are against discrimination and for respect of our Prophet”. On the sidelines of the demonstration an unknown person was attacked, possibly by participants of the final rally.

“Freedom of opinion and assembly are a high good, but we must not allow them to be abused by Islamists and enemies of our constitution for their own purposes,” said Dennis Gladiator, spokesman for domestic policy of the CDU’s Citizens’ Faction.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said that all legal possibilities had been examined. “If there was a possibility, we would have banned the gathering.” However, the gathering was protected by the freedom of assembly according to the Basic Law.The Council of Islamic Communities in Hamburg (Shura) distanced itself from the demonstration. A spokesman stated that the Council of Islamic Communities was not inviting to the rally. The private person who organised the demonstration was not known to us, said board member Mehdi Aroui. He stressed: “We condemn all violence. He said that the Shura stood up for the absolutely precious good of freedom of expression.Aroui further stated that the Mohammed cartoons published by “Charlie Hebdo” hurt the religious feelings of Muslims and were a form of bullying. During a minute’s silence at Hamburg schools for Samuel Paty, a French teacher murdered in mid-October, some Muslim children had felt uncomfortable. They felt that they were considered “jointly liable”. The Shura wants to discuss the subject with Islamic teachers in an online event at the end of November.

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