Germany on Friday officially banned Islamic terror group Isis from any activities in the country, warning that the jihadists, who have captured swathes of Iraq and Syria, also posed a threat to Europe.
Defence minister Thomas de Mazière announced the ban on flying Isis flags, wearing Isis symbols and all Isis activities at a press conference on Friday morning.
"The terror organisation Islamic State is a threat to public safety in Germany as well," de Mazière said. "We are resolutely confronting this threat today.
"Today's ban is directed solely against terrorists who abuse religion for their criminal goals," he added. "Germany is a well-fortified democracy, there's no place here for a terrorist organisation which opposes the constitutional order as well as the notion of international understanding."
The move will also ban donations to the group, recruiting fighters, holding Isis meetings and distributing its propaganda.
Wolfgang Bosbach, from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told broadcaster ARD on Friday morning that the government had been looking at a ban for some time.
The ban, however, doesn’t mean Isis has been outlawed as a foreign terrorist organization, as a court judgement is needed to do that.
De Mazière's announcement was backed by German police union DPolG. Chairman Rainer Wendt described the ban as "right and necessary". "It would be cynical and irresponsible if we showed tolerance in this situation," Wendt added, warning that otherwise Isis supporters may fly flags on German streets.
It comes as the CIA announced that Isis had around 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. Several hundred Germans are also in their ranks.
It is unclear whether Isis has any organizational structure in Germany, but young Germans are being recruited by Salafists, who believe in an extreme form of Islam, to fight for the jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Last week, two were stopped at the German-Austrian border.
A trial also begins on Monday of a 20-year-old in Frankfurt am Main accused of being a member of Isis.
The man, named as Kreshnik B., allegedly travelled to Syria through Turkey and fought against President Bashar Al-Assad’s troops from July 2013 to December 2013.
He was arrested on his return to Germany in December in Frankfurt.
Prosecutors said on the charge sheet that Kreshnik was trained by ISIS in weapons and fighting before joining battles for them.
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According to the Frankfurter Allegmeine Zeitung, he was radicalized in the city by Islamic clerics.
Friday's Isis ban is part of a series of measures being taken by the government against the extremists. Weapons and aid have been flown to Kurds fighting the terror group in northern Iraq, but on Thursday Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier ruled out German participation in American-led airstrikes against Isis positions in Syria.
That was echoed by Chancellor Merkel's spokeswoman on Friday, who told Reuters that while Germany is concerned for the stability of the region, it will not take part in military strikes.
Other countries to officially ban Isis activities are the Netherlands, UK, and the world's biggest Muslim country, Indonesia.
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