German police, through order of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), raided the Islamic Center of Hamburg (IZH) and five other organizations, saying the groups were pro-Hezbollah and support the Hezbollah’s activities on Thursday. Authorities say the other organizations are subsidiaries of IZH. The raid involved police forces from several regions, and 54 objects were seized and evaluated by the federal security authorities.
Hezbollah is an Iran-back militant group opposed to Israel that operates in Lebanon, and it has been supporting Hamas in its current war with Israel. It is designated as a terrorist organization by Germany and a number of Arab states described it using similar language in 2017.
According to BMI, IZH is suspected of being non-compliant with the constitutional orders of Basic Law and the Association Act. Basic Law article 9 paragraph 2 (Freedom of association) prohibits associations with objectives that break criminal law and go against constitutional order and “international understanding.” According to Association Act, scheme 3 paragraph 1, IZH assets will be seized and confiscated, and the association dissolved if they are found to be opposed to the law of constitutional order. Furthermore, all third parties are banned from “intentionally promoting” the unconstitutional aims of an association through various means, such as “transferring of goods”.
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that Germany has an “Islamist scene” and that the country does not tolerate Islamist propaganda or antisemitic hate speech. Faeser said they are therefore taking a “high vigilance and tough approach.” BMI claims that the IZH aims to spread the “revolutionary concept of the Supreme Iranian leaders,” and that this violates the German constitution. The Association of Iranian Democratic Society issued a statement supporting the Interior Minister’s decision to search the IZH Mosque and the other supporting groups, saying that IZH supports fundamentalism, supports the Iranian regime and uses Islam and Islamic culture to pursue espionage and terror. According to Speigel Politics, IZH denies the allegations, asserting that they “condemn all violence and extremism.”
After the raid, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) suspended IZH’s membership, saying:
The presumption of innocence applies and we have full confidence in our constitutional state. Nevertheless, it is in the interest of all those affected to take this step until the matter is clarified.
The board has been holding intensive discussions with the IZH for a long time regarding the allegations made against it with the aim of preserving the mosque, which is over 60 years old, and the long tradition of Shiite life in Germany.
Israel and Hezbollah have exchanged cross-border fire since Hamas’s October 7 attacks and Israel’s subsequent siege of Gaza.This has escalated tensions and resulted in casualties on both sides, including journalists. More than 20,000 Israelis and more than 4,200 Lebanese have been forced to evacuate or flee. Germany has supported Israel in its war with Hamas, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledging “friendship and solidarity with Israel” and the protection of Jews. Earlier in November, Faeser formally banned supporting Hamas and pro-Palestinian organization Samidoun.
Global hate, particular antisemitism and Islamophobia, has surged since October 7. Germany itself has experience a marked rise anti-semetism, with increased hate crimes, including the targeting of a Berlin synagogues with homemade firebombs, defaced Jewish gravestones and swastikas drawn on Jewish institutions. The European Jewish Congress stated on social media that “blatant anti-semitism cannot be tolerated and needs to be condemned at the highest levels.” The country’s Coordinating Council of Muslims has said that Germany is also experiencing a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, expressing particular concern about children being stigmatized in schools.