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CRIME

German police raid Islamists

Police seized documents and searched buildings across Germany on Wednesday in a coordinated raid against a group of suspected Islamic extremists, officials in the German state of Bavaria said.

German police raid Islamists
A mosque in Leipzig searched by police. Photo: DPA

Targets of the investigation led by the Munich prosecutor’s office were nine German citizens between the ages of 25 and 47 years old, according to the state Office of Criminal Investigation in Bavaria. The men, most of whom have an immigrant background, are suspected of sedition and running a criminal organization.

No arrests were immediately reported.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachin Herrmann told German news agency DPA the searches were a sign of the hazards of fundamentalist Islam.

More than 130 officers searched 16 buildings, including private flats, cultural centres and a publishing house in Neu-Ulm, Ulm, Sindelfingen, Bonn, Berlin and Leipzig.

DPA cited unnamed German security officials in a report that the suspects, including two imams, had tried to incite jihad among young Muslims using the internet and seminars on Islam. The suspects are accused of forming an organization dedicated to radicalizing German Muslims in September 2005, DPA reported.

The news agency reported that the offices of publisher As-Sunna were searched in Berlin and association rooms were searched in Leipzig. It linked the investigation to the Multi-Kultur-Haus, a multicultural centre in Neu-Ulm shuttered by German authorities in 2005, and to the Islamic Information Centre of Ulm, which the agency said is also suspected of support for radical Islam.

CULTURE

German art show slammed over anti-Semitic images

Jewish leaders and Israel's embassy to Germany have voiced "disgust" over anti-Semitic images on display at Documenta, one of the world's biggest art fairs.

German art show slammed over anti-Semitic images

Documenta had been clouded in controversy for months over its inclusion of a Palestinian artists’ group strongly critical of the Israeli occupation.

On Monday – two days after the show opened to the public – one of the works on display by Indonesian art group Taring Padi also came under fire over depictions that both the German government and Jewish groups say went too far.

On the offending mural is the depiction of a pig wearing a helmet blazoned “Mossad”.

On the same work, a man is depicted with sidelocks often associated with Orthodox Jews, fangs and bloodshot eyes, and wearing a black hat with the SS-insignia.

“We are disgusted by the anti-Semitic elements publicly displayed at the Documenta 15 exhibition,” said Israel’s embassy in a statement.

“Elements being portrayed in certain exhibits are reminiscent of propaganda used by Goebbels and his goons during darker times in German history,” it added.

“All red lines have not only been crossed, they have been shattered.”

READ ALSO: Top German art show starts amid anti-Semitism row

Josef Schuster, of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, noted that “artistic freedom ends where xenophobia begins”.

Culture Minister Claudia Roth also said this is where “artistic freedom finds its limits”, as she urged the show’s curators to “draw the necessary
consequences”.

The president of the German-Israel Society, Volker Beck, told Bild daily that he was filing a case with prosecutors over the picture.

Documenta later said it and the Indonesian collective had decided to cover up the work and install an explanation next to it.

No Israeli Jewish artist

Documenta, held in the German city of Kassel, includes the works of more than 1,500 participants.

For the first time since its launch in 1955, the show is being curated by a collective, Indonesia’s Ruangrupa.

But even in the run-up to the show’s opening this weekend, the group has come under fire for including the collective called The Question of Funding over its links to the BDS boycott Israel movement.

BDS was branded anti-Semitic by the German parliament in 2019 and barred from receiving federal funds. Around half of Documenta’s 42-million-euro budget comes from public funds.

Opening the exhibition this weekend, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he had considered skipping the event.

“While some criticism is justified of Israeli policies, such as on settlement building”, the recognition of the Israeli state is “the basis and prerequisite of the debate” in Germany.

He called it disturbing that some from outside Europe or North America had refused to take part in cultural events in which Jewish Israelis are participating.

It was striking that no Jewish artist from Israel was represented at this edition of Documenta, he noted.

By Hui Min NEO

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