The Al Nur mosque in Berlin’s gritty south-eastern neighbourhood of Neukölln is one of the few mosques in the German city where Arabic is spoken. And refugees from Arab lands always receive a very warm welcome.
As reported by The Financial Times, the mosque is also known for another reason: its ties to radical Islam.
For years, the mosque, housed in a nondescript single-storey building in an industrial zone, has been on the watch list of German domestic intelligence, which considers it a hotbed of extremism. It regularly hosts firebrand imams such as Abdallah Khalid Ismail, a Danish preacher who in his sermons calls on Allah to “destroy the Jews”.
Now German officials are worried that homegrown militants are recruiting and radicalising Sunni Muslims from Syria. This is a development that could complicate efforts to integrate the newcomers and pose a long-term threat to Germany’s security.
In response, authorities have banned all fundamentalist organisations from entering refugee shelters. But Cansu Özdemir, a member of the Hamburg parliament, said the groups have simply changed their approach.
“They used to go in big groups to the places the refugees were living, and tried to enter,” she was quoted as saying. “Now they’re cleverer; they’re infiltrating the shelters, sneaking their people inside.”