Salafism expert: 'Massive threat'
The latest violence has sparked concerns about the German Salafist scene. Islam expert Herbert Müller of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution explains why the extremists pose a threat.
DW: Salafism is a general term often used to describe all the dangerous elements in the German Islamist scene. What's really behind that term?
Herbert Müller: Salafists are people who think they should live like their pious ancestors – that is they want to follow the example set by the prophet and the three following generations.
Is it fair to describe Salafism as the core of "jihadist tourism"?
If you look at al Qaeda, then you could say: Yes, Salafism in the end is at the heart of what we today call Islamist terrorism. But it's more diverse and one shouldn't forget that there are other elements to it. There are other movements that feed into it too, like some elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Wahhabi, which is the official form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. We can therefore assume that we're dealing with an older movement here and that political Islam has been combined with a militant element.
Aren't we doing some of the Salafists an injustice, if we describe them all as violent?
Of course you can distinguish between those who are prone to violence and those who aren't. Some experts indeed say that there is an apolitical form of Salafism. But I think it's problematic to say that the Wahhabi or Salafists don't have a political element and that they are merely a religious movement. Salafism aims at having an impact on society as a whole. (...)