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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
Acts of terror increasing throughout
Charlie Hebdo fallout continues with
terror threats in Germany and rallies in Pakistan
Sydney Moring Herald
The fallout from the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris continued over the
weekend, with anti-Islamic rallies in Germany banned due to terror
threats and ongoing protests in Pakistan.
In Belgium, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, considered the brains behind the cell
plotting to kill Belgian police, was still on the run days after the
group was busted by intelligence services.
Amid the heightened tensions, Cherif Kouachi, the second gunman in the
magazine attack was given a secretive burial in an unmarked grave near
Paris late on Saturday, designed to ensure it did not become a
pilgrimage site for radical Islamists.
Also on Sunday, a French court prevented a rally by anti-Islamist groups
in Paris on the grounds that they were promoting Islamophobia.
In Germany, police banned a scheduled rally by an anti-Islamic group and
other public open-air gatherings in the eastern city of Dresden, citing
a terrorist threat.
Dresden police said they had received information from federal and state
counterparts indicating a "concrete threat" against the right-wing
populist group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the
Occident, or PEGIDA.
There had been calls for would-be "assassins to mingle among the
protesters ... and to murder an individual member of the organising team
of the PEGIDA demonstrations", which were planned for today (Monday),
This was consistent with "an Arabic-language Tweet that called the
PEGIDA demonstrations an enemy of Islam", they said.
Top-circulation daily Bild said online that the threat targeted PEGIDA's
most prominent leader, Lutz Bachmann.
A growing divide in Germany
The PEGIDA marches – which have voiced anger against Islam and "criminal
asylum-seekers" and vented a host of other grievances – began in Dresden
in October with several hundred supporters and have since steadily
They drew a record 25,000 people last Monday in the wake of the Charlie
Hebdo attacks in Paris.
Also last Monday, some 100,000 Germans marched in nationwide
counter-demonstrations against PEGIDA.
Dresden police said that after the latest information "and given the
characteristics of terrorist attacks, we must assume the use of
homicidal means and an immediate threat to life and limb of all
participants of the demonstrations".
However PEGIDA told its followers on Facebook that the group – rather
than police – had decided to call off the Dresden event as it could not
guarantee the security of marchers and feared "collateral damage".
"IS terrorists have ordered his assassination," it said in a statement.
Germany's Der Spiegel news weekly reported on Friday that foreign
intelligence services had picked up communications by some "known
international jihadists" indicating they had discussed possible attacks
on PEGIDA rallies.
"We take these leads very seriously," Spiegel quoted an unnamed
high-ranking security official as saying.
Germany on high alert
Chancellor Angela Merkel last Thursday vowed to step up security
measures against Islamist militants, while vowing that Germany would not
be divided by extremism of any kind.
"Hate preachers, violent delinquents who act in the name of Islam, those
behind them, and the intellectual arsonists of international terrorism
will be rigorously fought with all legal means at the disposal of the
state," she told parliament.
Ms Merkel has also stressed that "Islam is part of Germany", vowed to
defend Muslims against racist slurs and attacks, and said that PEGIDA's
leaders were motivated by "prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their
On Friday, around 250 police raided 11 premises linked to Islamists in
Berlin, arresting two men of Turkish origin suspected of planning
violence in Syria.
One of the men was suspected of "leading an Islamist extremist group
made up of Turkish and Russian nationals from Chechnya and Dagestan,"
Germany's internal security service has placed around 100 Islamist
groups, each comprising 10 to 80 people, under observation since last
year, another news report said. The surveillance targets included Muslim
prayer groups, online propagandists, people collecting donations for
jihadists and fighters who had returned from the Middle East.
Unrest continues across the Muslim world
Meanwhile in Lahore, more than 5,000 people took to the streets on
Sunday to protest against Charlie Hebdo's publication of a picture of
the Prophet Muhammad weeping on its cover. The new edition of the
magazine came just a week after two gunmen stormed its offices and
killed 12 people, including the editor.
The gunmen said their attack was revenge for previous cartoons the
magazine had published mocking Islam.
A Le Journal du Dimanche in France on Sunday found 42 per cent of French
people thought publications should avoid running cartoons of Mohammed,
and 50 per cent favoured limiting freedom of expression on the internet
and social networks.
Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani organisation
banned for launching attacks in neighbouring India, told protesters: "We
will launch a movement against the insulting caricatures of our beloved
He urged traders to stop importing French products and for Pakistani
leaders to campaign for an international law against blasphemy, which is
punishable by death in Pakistan.
Saeed called for more rallies next Friday.
Sunday's rally in Lahore was one of several taking place across
Pakistan. In the city of Quetta, posters featuring French President
Francois Hollande were set alight.
On Friday, protesters trying to storm the French consulate in the
southern city of Karachi shot and injured a photographer working for
French news agency AFP.
On Saturday, five people were killed during anti-Charlie Hebdo protests