Why are people such followers

Answers to Salafism

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How do Salafists attract followers?

Salafists have been carrying out propaganda campaigns nationwide for years. The professional dissemination of the Salafist ideology locally and on the Internet has a strong pull. Salafists advertise for reinforcements with plenty of ideas and complexities. They use the distribution of information material as a door opener to get into conversation with people and thus make contact with potential new followers. On the Internet, too, they not only rely on information, but also on a wide range of dialog offers to recruit young people. Your goals: to penetrate as many areas of our society as possible through a wide range of offers. Giving seemingly simple answers to all questions and problems in life - and thus binding people to you in the long term.

Islam information booths

At their information stands and through the use of mobile teams in pedestrian zones, Salafists speak to people directly and distribute Salafist information material, among other things. They want to arouse an initial interest in their ideology. Islam should appear as the "better" religion compared to Christianity or other religions.

At a glance: "LIES!" - the Koran distribution project (banned since November 15, 2016)

READ! In the name of your Lord, who made you ”was the name of a Salafist project in which editions of the Koran were distributed at stands in pedestrian zones. The motto is based on the command "LIES!", Which the angel Gabriel is said to have brought to the prophet Muhammad. In some cases, passers-by were involved in conversations in order to convince them of the supposedly “true” Islam. Mobile teams were also in action (“Street Dawa”), who distributed copies of the Koran from shoulder bags in order to reach even more people. The Salafist network Die Wahre Religion (DWR) of the preacher Ibrahim Abou Nagie was responsible for the “LIES!” Campaign. The Koran distribution project was financed primarily through donations from the Salafist scene.


The association Die Wahre Religion (DWR) has been banned in Germany since November 15, 2016 because DWR represented an anti-constitutional ideology and advocated armed jihad. With the ban on DWR, the nationwide Koran distribution project “LIES!” Was also banned. Organizers and operators of the “LIES!” Campaigns used the free distribution of translations of the Koran to carry out jihadist-Islamist propaganda and to gain new followers. A number of people identified in connection with “LIES!” Stands have traveled to the war zones in Syria and Iraq to join jihadist groups there.

Press release on the ban on the association Die Wahre Religion (PDF).

In principle, the distribution of the Koran is protected by Article 4 of the Basic Law (freedom of belief and conscience). Salafists, however, use the distribution of free Korans and information materials as a door opener to establish contacts for recruitment and to mediate supra-regional contacts between Salafists. This can intensify individual radicalization processes. Most of the young people taking part in such campaigns see their Salafist commitment as a personal enhancement. They are given a feeling of community, superiority and identity.

In the wake of the prohibition of the association “Die Wahre Religion” and the “LIES! -” campaign organized by it, Salafist information stands have become rather rare. Nevertheless, it must be expected that Salafists will occasionally resort to this means of propaganda again in the future.

Salafism: Internet and Social Media Recruiting

Salafists specifically use the Internet as a channel for propaganda, communication, recruiting and controlling e.g. B. of actions. The "Islamic State" (IS) has also contributed to a strong professionalization of jihadist propaganda. Numerous websites, accounts in social networks, apps and instant messaging services ensure that the Salafist ideology is spread around the world. Salafist associations, networks and individuals, for example, set up so-called dawa pages (missionary pages), which they in turn strongly network with one another. These websites are often multilingual, multimedia and graphically complex.

Prof. Peter Neumann spoke about the importance of social networks for international terrorism at re: publica 2017. The lecture is available here: to the video

In the spotlight: Muslim youth with a migration background and young converts

The main target group of Salafist websites are:

  • Muslim youth with a migration background
  • young people who have converted to Islam
  • young people in an unstable social environment and looking for orientation, support and recognition
  • People who are generally interested in Islam and who are suggested that Salafism is the only correct interpretation of Islam

The Salafist websites are tailored to the world of young people in Western countries, from the language to the symbols. Even children of preschool and elementary school age are already in the focus of Salafist groups. For example, the website of the Salafist propaganda network “The True Religion” had its own section entitled “Children in Islam”. There were games and handicraft tips, worksheets, stories, prayers and audio books to download or print out. The "Islamic State" also offered a special app for children to learn the alphabet.

Salafists also target children on the Internet.

Prominent “online imams” offer training courses on the Internet that supplement or even replace Salafist training measures on site. Charismatic leaders spread the Salafist ideology on the internet, including: with jihadist sermons.

Online teaching material for the "worldwide struggle"

Online propaganda and networking on the Internet help members and sympathizers of global jihad see themselves as part of a single movement. Thanks to the Internet, al-Qaida and the so-called “Islamic State” have developed into internationally operating terrorist organizations.

With teaching material from the Internet, Salafists can take part in the worldwide struggle in their home countries ("Open Source Jihad") without being directly involved in a terrorist group. In this way, the Internet enables Islamist terrorist groups to survive and develop further independently of regional structures and developments.

Salafism: Importance of Music

Salafists fundamentally reject music in the western sense as an expression of the corruption of the world they regard as godless and materialistic. In addition, it distracts from studying the Koran. But they have discovered their own musical culture and reinterpreted it for their own purposes. Jihadist Salafists, in particular, use so-called naschids to take advantage of the fact that music can address, reinforce and even trigger feelings. Naschids are particularly attractive to young people; they often feel touched by the melodies and find themselves in the lyrics.

At a glance: NASCHIDS

Naschids are mostly short and melodically memorable religious chants, often without any instrumental accompaniment. Because of their religious content, naschids are not regarded as forbidden by most Salafists (Arabic: haram). Example of a naschid:

“Yes, we go into battle over mountains and valleys, for the peace of our Ummah, there is no choice, in the search for death we enjoy the torment, at the side of our brothers until judgment day. Let us enter every battlefield for the love of the Lord, with the intention of serving him and we like to serve him, I can smell them, the gardens of Eden, I follow the call of my Lord, the Huris (Virgins in paradise) giggle and they wait. My life for my Lord. "

"Islam Seminars"

Islam seminars are an important part of Salafist propaganda; rarely in Bavaria. At the mostly multi-day events, Salafist content and a sense of community are to be conveyed. As a rule, several nationally known Salafist preachers appear who address their Salafist - sometimes even jihadist - shaped lectures to an audience of predominantly like-minded people. There are also several hours of Islamic lectures with individual Salafist preachers.

In addition, Salafist associations and organizations also invite you to benefit events. They are similar to the Islamic seminars; however, mainly donations are collected. The program includes lectures by Salafist preachers; In addition, disturbing images from jihadist areas of struggle are shown. Several Islamist aid organizations with a Salafist background are active nationwide. Under the pretext of solidarity with Muslims in crisis regions, they use the willingness to donate to support their fellow believers and sisters in faith (e.g. Ansaar International e.V. and Help in Need e.V.).

Lectures and calls for donations have recently been increasingly relocating to the Internet. Nationwide known Salafist preachers publish YouTube videos or offer online seminars almost every day. Fundraising campaigns are also heavily promoted on the internet.

Salafist preachers

Salafist preachers play an important role in the scene, for propaganda and in attracting new followers. In mosques and especially online, they attract hundreds of (mostly young) Salafists in Germany. Most of them have a strong charisma and are skillfully showcasing themselves. In addition to “religion”, they also speak about topics of interest to young people in German youth language. Contents such as friendship, sex, the role of women or nutrition are cleverly combined with Salafist views. The goals:

  • Encourage supporters to think more about Salafism (indoctrinate).
  • Making the supposedly “true Islam” understandable for everyone.

Salafist preachers in Germany are often not trained theologians, but lay preachers. But there are also preachers who work abroad, e. B. in Saudi Arabia, have studied. Your activities:

  • Advice on all aspects of the Salafist interpretation of the "correct" Islamic lifestyle.
  • Guest lectures in mosques; Occasionally Salafist preachers from abroad are on tour in Germany.
  • Some preachers run their own websites on which they post their “Islamic lectures” and other content.

“Home Dawa”: persuasion in a private environment

Another form of Salafist missionary work is the “Home Dawa”. These are meetings and lectures by Salafists in private apartments. Although relevant events are openly called for on the Internet, they take place behind closed doors and are not accessible to everyone.

At a glance: DAWA

The Arabic word "Dawa" means in the Salafist environment: invitation to Islam, proselytizing, propaganda. Depending on where Dawa takes place, a distinction is made today between “Home Dawa” in private apartments and “Street Dawa” - the establishment of contact in pedestrian zones, e. B. at information stands.

The Salafist preacher Pierre Vogel has already called for this type of missionary work several times. He believes that mosques are often "out of date" and that Muslim associations are incompetent. One must break away from a fixed, publicly accessible infrastructure and switch to "dawa apartments" in order to prevent surveillance by the security authorities. Vogel propagates “Home Dawa” as a suitable means of attracting and recruiting young people in particular, regardless of mosques. Other members of the Salafist scene in Germany also welcome these non-public meetings in private homes.

Salafism: Attempts to Recruit Refugees

Salafists have tried in various ways to establish contact with refugees. The focus is initially on humanitarian aid. Salafists want to create a basis of trust through social support. They can then abuse them and convey their extremist, anti-integration ideology. In this way, the refugees should be won over as supporters or members in the long term.

Young, unaccompanied refugees are particularly at risk. You came to Germany without parents or relatives and are particularly looking for social contacts, closeness and people you can trust.

Signs of Islamist recruitment attempts can be that alleged helpers distribute brochures with Salafist content in the vicinity of refugee accommodation or invite the refugees to Salafist events.

Contact persons for refugees

What do I do if Salafists try to recruit?

If an asylum seeker is approached by Salafists in front of or in his accommodation facility, he or she can contact the staff, e. B. the management or the security service. As a rule, there is no staff on site in decentralized accommodations. The asylum counseling staff as well as voluntary contact persons for asylum seekers are active here. The same applies to facilities for initial reception and state collective accommodation.

If volunteers or full-time employees learn about an attempted recruitment by an asylum seeker reporting to him or her or by observing one himself, he or she should alert the police immediately. This can determine who the recruiter is and prevent the recruiting.

In Bavaria, the Bavarian State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV) receives information on Islamist radicalization tendencies and terrorism:

  • by phone on 089 31201480 or
  • Write an email to the LfV


Training abroad

Many Salafists travel to Arabic-speaking “mother countries”. Here they want to expand and deepen their knowledge of Arabic and Koran. Young Salafists often receive scholarships and other help for their education. On site, the language and Islamic students are introduced to Salafist groups and networks in a targeted manner in order to anchor them firmly in the Salafist scene. This often leads to further radicalization: the young Muslims, initially politically Salafist, are developing in the direction of jihadist Salafism (see info box). Some of the Salafists trained abroad return home and are deployed to spread the Salafist worldview

Salafism: “Political” or “Jihadist”?

We distinguish between two forms of Salafism:

  • So-called political Salafism refrains from exercising direct violence to achieve its goals; even if there are political Salafists who consider the use of violence at least legitimate in certain situations - but without using it themselves or calling for it.
  • Jihad Salafism (to which al-Qaeda and the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) belong) calls for violence and acts of violence.
Training in terror camps

Terrorist training takes place in so-called “terror camps” - often in jihadist combat zones. This includes ideological training, martial arts, weapons and explosives training, and military tactics.

Particularly dangerous: jihadists returning from terror camps and paramilitary struggle.

People who have completed a terrorist training camp or have actively participated in paramilitary fighting pose a particular security risk after returning to Germany. These returnees are highly regarded in the Salafist scene. In this way, they can support a further radicalization of Islamists who were previously not oriented towards violence. They are particularly attractive to young people. They also increase the potential risk of terrorist activities in Germany.

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