Group shows Muhammad cartoon at mosque

2012-08-18 17:01
A man holds a banner that reads "Civil movement for Germany: Go vote for censured theses" during the rally of the far-right group Pro Deutschland near the As-Sahaba mosque in Berlin's Wedding district. (Barbara Sax, AFP)

A man holds a banner that reads "Civil movement for Germany: Go vote for censured theses" during the rally of the far-right group Pro Deutschland near the As-Sahaba mosque in Berlin's Wedding district. (Barbara Sax, AFP)

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Berlin - A far-right group displayed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad outside a Berlin mosque on Saturday amid a heavy police presence, while far-leftists and anti-Nazis staged a counter-demonstration.

The protest by about 50 militants of the Pro Deutschland group aimed at Islamist extremists went ahead after a court allowed them to brandish copies of cartoons whose original appearance in Denmark sparked violent reactions across the globe.

Islamic law prohibits depictions of the prophet.

The administrative court in the German capital rejected on Thursday a complaint filed by three mosque congregations "to prevent the citizens' movement Pro Deutschland from showing so-called Muhammad caricatures in front of their premises".

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

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

Bracing for clashes

Pro Deutschland activists rallied outside a mosque reputed to be a hotbed of the radical Islamic Salafist community on Saturday carrying a placard reading "Stop Islamisation" as well as the cartoon.

They planned to do the same outside two other mosques in the working-class district of Wedding and protest outside squats held by the extreme left on Sunday.

Police were bracing for clashes at the Berlin demonstrations after violence broke out during similar rallies by the extreme right against Salafists in May in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Authorities estimate there are about 2 500 Salafists in Germany. They espouse an austere form of Sunni Islam, but officials in Germany accuse them of also condoning violence against state institutions.

In June Germany banned a Salafist group and hundreds of police raided more than 70 homes, schools and mosques across the country in a clamp-down on "dangerous extremists".

Read more on:    germany  |  religion  |  prophet protests

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