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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?

Prediction 2: Acts of terror increasing throughout Europe

Germany’s Angela Merkel Says Terrorists Commit ‘Blasphemy’
by Andrea Thomas

Chancellor Asks Islamic Leaders to Clarify Religion’s Stand on Extremism

BERLIN—Terrorists killing people in the name of God are committing blasphemy, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday, calling on Islamic leaders to clarify the relationship between their religion and the militants who claim to act in its name.

In a declaration to Germany’s lower house of parliament on last week’s terror attacks in Paris and underlining previous comments on the importance of national unity, Ms. Merkel said terrorist actions are probably the result of a certain interpretation of religion “that assumes being allowed to act, punish, kill on God’s behalf.”

“But for me, this is nothing but blasphemy. Terrorists’ actual motivation is in their conviction that they stand above others because they believe they are God’s representative, because they mean to have a historic mission, because they are convinced that they stand above others due to their faith, origin, descent, sex.”

In her speech, she also reiterated that Islam belongs to Germany—she has said her government is doing everything it can to ensure migrants successfully integrate into German society regardless of their religion. The comment has caused controversy in a country debating the threat of radical Islam and how willing some Muslims are to accept the rules of a largely secular culture.

Thousands of protesters have been holding weekly rallies across the country since October, denouncing what they call an “Islamization” of Europe.

Ms. Merkel said that although most Germans aren’t hostile toward the teachings of the Quran, they also aren’t sure which version of Islam belongs to Germany—a militant or a peaceful one.

“They want to know why terrorists have so little regard for the value of human life and why they tie their crimes to their faith. They ask how they can trust the phrase that murderers who claim to act in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam,” Ms. Merkel said. “I want to emphasize that these are valid questions. I believe we urgently need a clarification of these questions by Islam’s religious leaders. This issue can’t be evaded any longer.”

Ms. Merkel also said Europe should act fast to improve security laws. She called on the European Commission—the European Union’s executive arm—to quickly provide revised guidelines over the retention of individuals’ phone and Internet data that would allow better prevention and investigation of crimes. Germany would then quickly implement these rules, Ms. Merkel said.

The German cabinet Wednesday approved a draft bill to allow authorities to withdraw the national identification cards of suspected Islamic extremists, in bid to prevent them from traveling to Syria and Iraq and receive training from Islamic State militant groups.

German security officials estimate that some 550 Islamists have left Germany and headed to Syria since 2012. Officials are concerned that those returning are a security risk because they might be radicalized or traumatized.

Write to Andrea Thomas at andrea.thomas@wsj.com
 

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