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Germans Watch Rising Conversion To Islam With Concern

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Germans watch rising conversion to Islam with concern

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Berlin (dpa) - The German authorities are watching the rising tide of conversion to Islam with some concern, the daily Berliner Zeitung reported Thursday.


The newspaper cited figures compiled by a Muslim group that showed that 4,000 Germans had converted last year, compared with just 1,000 in 2005.


It was common knowledge that the German authorities were monitoring converts to Islam closely, it said.


Quoting Interior Ministry officials, the newspaper said there had been a rise internationally in the number of converts involved in Islamist terrorist acts.


Among them are "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, a Briton who tried to blow up an American Airlines flight in December 2001, and Muriel Degauque, a Belgian suicide bomber who blew herself up in Iraq in November 2005.


Guido Steinberg, who researches Islamic issues, said extremists were targeting new converts, and terrorist expert Rolf Tophoven said converts tended to be fanatical.


According to Salim Abdullah, who runs the Islam Archive, there are currently 3.3 million Muslims in Germany, 18,000 of them of German origin.


The Interior Ministry estimates the number of converts at 15,000 but notes that woman converts tend to bring up their children as Muslims and estimates that 40,000 native Germans are living according to Muslim custom.


Abdullah attributed the increase in conversions to rising Islamophobia. "Whenever Islam falls under suspicion, many people start to feel solidarity with the religion," he told the Berliner Zeitung.


This had been visible immediately after the September 11 attacks in 2001.


Abdullah noted that more women than men were converts, in a ratio of 60 to 40, but added that conviction rather than marriage to a Muslim was usually the reason.


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