Police and intelligence agencies searched 54 premises around Germany this morning linked to the Islamic Centre of Hamburg, gathering evidence about suspected links to Hezbollah and Iran.
Security forces have monitored the Islamic Centre of Hamburg (IZH) and five possible offshoots for some time due to their perceived radicalism. The IZH operates Hamburg’s Imam Ali Mosque in Hamburg, also known as the Blue Mosque.
Iranian immigrants created the association in 1953, and the interior ministry argues it promotes revolutionary principles from Iran.
“The IZH is suspected of being directed against the constitutional order and against the idea of international understanding,” says the interior ministry in a statement.
The searches took place across Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, and North Rhine-Westphalia, and involved 300 police officers in Hamburg alone.
The raids gathered information to determine whether the IZH and its offshoots support Hezbollah, a Lebanese paramilitary organisation and political party that Germany outlaws as a terrorist group.
“The suspicions against the Islamic Centre Hamburg weigh heavily”, says interior minister Nancy Faeser.
Germany’s government will also take more forceful measures against Islamic radicalism in the future, she adds.
“We have the Islamist scene in our sights,” she says.
This is especially true “now, at a time when many Jewish people feel particularly threatened,” says Faeser.
“We generally do not tolerate Islamist propaganda and any anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli incitement,” she explains.
Especially now, “high vigilance and a tough approach are crucial. That’s why we vigorously pursue every justified suspicion,” she says.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution says the IZH exerts significant influence, up to complete control, over several mosques and associations.
These mosques often take anti-Semitic and anti-Israel stances, which are also propagated in their media channels, the interior ministry claims.
It is an open-ended investigation, with federal security authorities now evaluating the materials seized during the search, says the ministry.
In a joint resolution last week, the SPD and Green parliamentary parties, along with the CDU and two FDP deputies, called for closing the IZH as soon as possible.
The Left Party and the AfD have also called for the centre to be closed.
The Social Democrats and Green parties had previously opposed calls to close IZH for a long time, changing their minds after Hamas’s October 7 attacks in Israel.
“It is all the more tragic that it took Hamas’ savage terror attack on Israel to get things moving,” Dennis Thering of the CDU says.
Heute morgen um 6 Uhr an der Blauen Moschee in Hamburg. Vermummte Polizisten durchsuchen das Islamische Zentrum Hamburg (IZH): Ermittlungsverfahren nach Vereinsgesetz. Insgesamt 54 Objekte bundesweit im Fokus.
— Philipp Woldin (@PhilippWoldin) November 16, 2023