September 7, 2010 2:05 P.M.
By Benjamin Weinthal
In what could be seen as a parallel to the robust grassroots opposition to the Ground Zero mosque in the U.S., citizens of the German city of Mönchengladbach, located in the West German state of North Rhine–Westphalia, are working overtime to prevent the radical Islamic association “Invitation to Paradise” from building an Islamic school there. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, Verfassungsschutz, has monitored the activities of “Invitation to Paradise” members, who propagate a Salafist version of Islam that calls for the decapitation of non-believers and the imprisonment of women in burqas.
Traditionally, German politicians and policymakers have bent over backwards to not offend homegrown Islamists, revolutionary Iranian supporters, and Hezbollah activists. That helps to explain why the Hamburg-based mosque al-Quds, which spawned the 9/11 terror attacks, remained open for almost nine years as a training center for jihadists.
A citizens’ initiative in Mönchengladbach spearheaded by Wilfried Schultz, a jurist and a student of theology, seeks to jolt drowsy politicians and government officials into action against the Salafists. Last week, a court barred the radical Islamic association from using a building as a mosque and from building the planned Islamic school, based on an insufficient construction application. In response, 130 Salafists seized a market square to pray and will continue to hold open-air services. According to a local press report, a woman shouted at them, “You’re repressing women and children”; she was met with a response of “loud and aggressive Allahu Akbar (God is Great!)” chants.