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Journalists threatened by Salafist group

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 16 April, 2012 - A video released on YouTube last week threatened a number of German journalists critical of a campaign by a radical Muslim group that subscribes to a radical Salafist interpretation of Islam to hand out free copies of the Koran in Germany, German newspaper Die Welt was reported by other German media as saying.

The group, calling itself “The True Religion”, aims to have a copy of the Koran in “every household in Germany, Austria and Switzerland”, according to its website.

A series of journalists and politicians in Germany have criticised the campaign and group, which is led by controversial Salafist imam Ibrahim Abou Nagie. Nagie has previously been charged with disturbing religious peace in the past, Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported.

According to Die Welt, a video briefly appeared on YouTube on Thursday directly naming and threatening journalists from the Frankfurter Rundschau and Tagesspiegel newspapers and featuring shots of private information and photographs of the journalists.

The video reportedly said: “We have detailed information about the monkeys and pigs who have published lies about DawaFFM (the Salafist group in Frankfurt) and its brothers and sisters. We have a lot of information about you, for example we know where you live, which football team you support, (and) we have your phone number.” The video reportedly added: “We have other names too, which we will disclose at another time.”

In the video, the journalists are told that if they continue to write about DawaFFM and its “brothers and sisters” and to spread stories, their data will be disclosed. The video reportedly adds: “This is not a threat; this is a warning in a peaceful manner.”

According to Die Welt, the producer of the video had previously worked for Nagie as a cameraman. Reports said that Ebner & Spiegel, the publishing house (not linked to Der Spiegel magazine) that has been printing Korans for the campaign, has stopped deliveries and is considering ending the contract.

IPI strongly condemns any threats directed at journalists in connection with their work. A pillar of any healthy democracy is the robust exchange of views. IPI urges the authorities to send a strong signal that threats against media professionals are unacceptable, as they undermine the democratic process.

Carl-Eugen Eberle, IPI Executive Board chair and former director of legal affairs for ZDF German Television said: “Critical journalism is not only essential for the democratic process but also for opinion-making in an open society. Threatening critical journalists is a crime not only in view of the journalists but also in view of society, and should be penalised.”

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