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Extreme German Salafists and a German-Born Terrorist Seek to Violently Keep a Right-Wing Party from Displaying Mohammad Cartoons

05/29/2012

In April the German anti-immigration, anti-Islamic Pro NRW Party announced plans to run a "Mohammad cartoon contest" as well as plans to protest outside twenty-five mosques throughout the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the run-up to state elections on May 13.  These plans were provocative ploys to garner attention and votes.  The party however failed to win a single seat to the state legislature and captured only 1.5 percent of the vote.  The party did garner a great deal of attention including that from radical German Salafists and from a Bonn-born terrorist.

On Monday, April 30th, Pro NRW supporters held the first of the anti-Islamic protests in the cities of Essen and Gelsenkirchen.  At the protests they held up placards saying, “Freedom Instead of Islam!”  The Pro NRW supporters also held up placards of Mohammad cartoons.  The police however had banned the display of the Twelve Danish cartoons that depict Mohammad.  These protests, by a hundred or so Pro NRW supporters, and, counter-protests by an estimated four hundred or more Muslim and non-Muslim opponents, were mostly peaceful.

The Pro NRW Party initiated lawsuits challenging the abridgment of their speech.  State courts so far have agreed with their position.  Courts in Germany took the view the displaying of cartoon images of the Prophet and of Allah are constitutionally protected expressions of free speech.  

On Tuesday, May 1st, some thirty Pro NRW supporters protested in Salingen holding up placards with Mohammad cartoons, including the most famous of the Twelve Danish cartoons, the cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb in his turban by Kurt Westergaard.  On May 5th some thirty Pro NRW supporters protested in Bonn, likewise holding up placards with Mohammad cartoons.  In both cities, radical Salafists in the counter-demonstrations attacked the police separating the two groups by first throwing stones and bottles and then charging at the police.  In Salingen eighty-one violent counter-demonstrators were arrested and in Bonn one hundred and nine or ten violent counter-demonstrators were arrested. Three officers and a passerby were injured in Salingen.  In Bonn twenty-nine officers were injured, two seriously with stab wounds.                 

In a video posted on YouTube that surfaced on May 18th, German born terrorist Yassin Chouka called on Muslims to murder members of the Pro NRW Party, and, employees of the German magazine Der Spiegel, and any other media outlets, that published photos of anti-Islam protesters carrying placards with cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. 

CRNI condemns the threats against protesters and the media professionals tasked to cover the protests.  CRNI also condemns the acts of violence directed against police officers doing their utmost to keep the peace.  CRNI Executive Director Dr. Robert Russell notes the irony of these threats and acts of violence.  “By resorting to violence and threats, the Salafists have bolstered the Pro NRW assertion that Islam is incompatible with democracy.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  On the other hand, peacefully protests prove how wrong the Pro NRW supporters are.  Democracy isn’t easy.” 

To read more about the protests and counter-protests, click on Berlin Worried About 'Muhammad Cartoon Contest', Salafists Attack Police at Far-Right Rally, and, Salafists and Right-Wing Populists Battle in Bonn from Spiegel Online International a division of German magazine Der Spiegel.  To read more about the video threat, click on the Washington Post/Associated Press article Germany steps up security in wake of online terrorist threat against far-right party, magazine.   To see one of those photographs of a Pro NRW demonstrator carrying a placard with a copy of Kurt Westergaard’s Mohammad cartoon, click on Spiegel Online Bonn Demonstration Photograph.  To learn more about Kurt Westergaard, click on Western Europe from our Art To Die For collection.