German Authorities Worry About Muslim Brotherhood Influence
German officials reportedly see the Muslim Brotherhood as an increasingly subversive force in their society, as attacks by ISIS, combined with Muslim migration to Germany, have fueled social tension.
The reach of the Islamic Community of Germany (ICG), which the German Domestic Intelligence Agency considers the German arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, is of particular concern. ICG leaders allegedly give lip service to moderation while privately supporting the transformation of Germany into an Islamic state “in the medium term,” German journalist Axel Spilcker wrote last month in a widely circulated German magazine called The Focus.
The ICG’s former head, Ibrahim El-Zayat, said in 2008 that it was “premature to strike against the Jews and infidels” in Germany, according to Sam Westrop, now with the Middle East Forum.
“But sooner or later we will strike against the enemies of Allah and Islam. We have to wait,” El-Zayat said.
ICG officials today are much more guarded today with their statements.
A brief about the Brotherhood posted on the website of the Interior Ministry of the German state of North Rhine Westphalia states: “The aim of the MB is the transformation of the countries with an Islamic majority population into states with an Islamist government system based on Sharia as well as the Islamic legal and living order. Violence is not ruled out to enforce this goal. But it is not a priority. The MB rejects democratic state systems, or accepts them only as a temporary solution.”
German officials believe this desire to create a governmental system based on Islamic shariah law violates the free democratic order. Gordian Meyer-Plath, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) in the State of Saxony, warned in 2017 about the Brotherhood’s effort to establish shariah law in Germany, and said that the group was working to subvert democracy.
Burkhart Frier, who heads the BfV in North Rhine Westphalia, told The Focus that the Muslim Brotherhood’s subversive activities were a bigger long-term threat to German democracy than Al Qaeda or ISIS. Frier also noted that the ICG received considerable funding from the Gulf states.
The ICG slammed Frier in a column that appeared in the Islamische Zeitung.
“Apart from the fact that the public intelligence services still do not show the proof of why they conclude that [ICG] activities are a threat to the liberal-democratic constitution, this claim is frightening,” the ICG said, claiming that it has always been committed to democracy. “Comparing them with such inhumane organizations that commit terrorist acts, beheading and burning people in public, enslaving women and bringing suffering and warfare to hundreds of thousands of people is simply distasteful and absurd.”
But German fears — based on the historical record — remain.
John Rossomando is a senior analyst at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.