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Anti-Islam group targets mosques and leftists

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Anti-Islam group targets mosques and leftists
Photo: DPA
10:28 CEST+02:00
Berlin police are preparing for possible violence at the weekend after an anti-Islam group was granted leave to display provocative cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during demonstrations outside mosques.

A court told the Pro-Deutschland group on Thursday it could show copies of the Danish cartoons which sparked violent protests around the globe when they were first published in 2005.

This Saturday, the group plans to demonstrate in front of three mosques in the capital city under the slogan, “Islam does not belong to Germany – stop Islamisation.”

Around 70 participants are expected to drive between the mosques and hold rallies in front of them - as Muslims prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadan on Sunday.

On Sunday itself, the group is taking a tour around some of Berlin's left-wing hot spots, in a further move which can only be interpreted as deliberate provocation.

At least half a dozen counter-demonstrations have been registered with the police for both days, spokesman Michael Gassen told The Local.

“The Campaign Against Racism is one of a handful which has registered to demonstrate along both routes on both days, in the same places as Pro-Deutschland,” he said.

“We are making it very clear that we want to talk with all groups concerned to reduce the risk of violence. We have had conversations with members of Muslim communities and they have assured us that they are calling upon their people to not allow themselves to be provoked. We are happy that these discussions have taken place.”

Details of how many police officers will be on the streets at the weekend were not available on Friday, but Gassen said reinforcements would be brought in from other states including North Rhine-Westphalia and Bayern, as is usual when larger operations are planned.

Pro-Deutschland was given permission to use the Mohammed cartoons after the Berlin Administrative court said it "rejected the urgent complaint filed by three Islamic mosque congregations to prevent the “citizens'” movement Pro Deutschland from showing so-called Mohammed caricatures in front of their premises during demonstrations on Saturday."

It said the cartoons were protected as "artistic freedom" and could not legally be considered as abuse of a religious group.

"Simply showing the Mohammed cartoons does not qualify as a call to hatred or violence against a specific segment of the population," the court said.

Two police officers were stabbed and around 100 people arrested in May when similar demonstrations in North Rhine-Westphalia ended in violence as an anti-Islamic protest squared up to a group of fundamental Muslims.

Around 30 members of Pro-NRW, the North Rhine-Westphalia sister group to Pro-Deutschland, held up images of the cartoons, facing off against up to 600 Salafist fundamental Muslims who had formed a counter-demonstration.

The Local/AFP/hc

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