Money and Political Islam: German Parliament demanding reforms

Michael Laubsch

Extremists with money are more dangerous than those without money. The German parliament, Bundestag, has now adopted this truism as its own – the conservative opposition submitted a motion for a resolution on this. It is also reacting to a working group on “Political Islamism”, which was set up by the previous government in the German Ministry of the Interior in the summer of 2021.

This has already been pointed out in a position paper by the conservative CDU/CSU parties. The aim is to prevent Islamists from gaining in importance in Germany – even if they want to achieve their goals through non-violent political means. The focus here is primarily on so-called “legalistic Islam”, which, in contrast to groups from the Salafist area, does not want to use violence to destroy the existing political and civil system in Europe.

In a position paper, members of the Bundestag stated as early as 2021 that a development like that in France, Great Britain or Sweden, where Islamists are now setting the tone in some municipalities, should be prevented in Germany by all means.

“The vast majority of the approximately five million Muslims in Germany live peacefully in our society and share the values of the free and democratic basic order,” emphasized the members of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group’s domestic policy working group in the position paper. Nevertheless, Islamists have spread in parts of society, who act ostensibly non-violently, but at the same time strive for an Islamic order “in which there is no equality, no freedom of opinion and religion and also no separation of religion and state”. In order to shed more light on this phenomenon, more basic research is needed.

The group of experts set up in the Federal Ministry of the Interior had only met once before the change of government in December last year. The ministry has not yet announced whether the new minister will continue the work. At the inaugural meeting, former Minister Seehofer (CSU) spoke of the need for the state and society in Germany to take resolute action against any ideology that goes against the values and norms of Europe. “It is important that not only violent forms of extremism, but also those using ideological means, are recognized and identified as a threat to our country’s values,” said the former minister. Certain parallels to the “Documentation Center for Political Islam” set up in Austria cannot be denied; two of the scientists represented on the expert council are also represented on the scientific advisory board of the Vienna body.

The motion now being discussed in the German Parliament, entitled “Disclosure and prevention of financing political Islamism in Germany”, focuses on the practice of financing political Islamist organizations from abroad, which has also been criticized by many experts, primarily from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and of Turkey. In addition, there are large sums from EU countries whose origin, such as from the “Qatar Charity Foundation”, can be clearly assigned to an Islamist organization.

In Germany, the financing of a new mosque building in Berlin, financed by a foundation based in England and close to the Muslim Brotherhood, has attracted particular public interest in recent months. MENA Research Center reported on it. According to the motion of the CDU/CSU, reference is made to the fact that political Islam “neither originated here nor is it limited to Germany; it has an international network and is promoted by foreign supporters and donors, including governments. In addition to countries such as Iran and Turkey, the Emirate of Qatar is mentioned in this context as one of the largest financiers of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.”

Therefore, the German parliament should call on the federal government to continue the expert council set up by the previous federal government. According to the motion, a legal loophole must also be closed: investigations in this area by the German security authorities. “Financial investigations are only permitted to us concerning violent Islamism,” said the President of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang. In the future, there should be the possibility of expanding the powers of the constitutional protection authorities in the area of financial investigations in such a way that the political and financial influence of political Islam can be better monitored. Here, the CDU/CSU wants to give the constitutional protection in particular the opportunity to make national inquiries to the “Financial Intelligence Unit” regarding the financing of extremism by non-terrorist groups and financiers. Likewise, “the reservation of approval by the G10 Commission for queries from

account master data, e.g. via the query option at the Federal Central Tax Office, as well as requests for information from banks, financial transfer service providers and financial companies.“

Christoph de Vries, one of the authors of the motion in the German Bundestag: “It is worrying when the Muslim Brotherhood is putting millions in its hands to spread its world view even more in Germany. In order to combat political Islamism, it is important to know the sources of finance and to know who finances communities and organizations in this area and thus also exerts influence.”

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