Invisible and dangerous: The Salafist scene in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia bordering both the Netherlands and Belgium is home to more Salafists than any other German state. Of the 1,000 people who traveled from Germany to fight with ISIS, around 300 came from the state. Of the 3,000 Salafists in the state, its intelligence office has classified 800 as ready to use violence. Prior to a 2016 law outlawing their outreach association, Salafists were a regular presence in city centers, distributing Korans and seeking recruits to their religion and organizational networks. With the ban, however, the group’s presence has not disappeared, but gone underground, where “most activities take place beyond the field of vision of the majority of society,” according to a consultant working in deradicalization in the state. “The recruitment of young talent is increasingly taking place in private. Communication takes place via encrypted WhatsApp or telegram channels.” People working in deradicalization in the state are quick to note that “not every Salafist is automatically a terrorist, but every Islamist terrorist was previously a Salafist.” For the full story, visit Deutche Welle at the link below.