GERMANY CONCERNED BY INCREASE IN CONVERTS TO ISLAM
In recent days, German officials have expressed concern about the rising number of converts to Islam in Germany. The chairman of the German Police Officers Union recently told the DDP news agency that many youth from migrant families have "idealized" the al-Qaeda network (DDP News Agency, February 6). The chairman, Konrad Freiberg, explained that the internet was largely behind this growth in radicalization. According to Freiberg, many al-Qaeda sympathizers make regular postings on online message boards, and that "al-Qaeda hardliners take a closer look at [these forums], singling out young people to contact them and get them interested in assassinations" (DDP News Agency, February 6). He also spoke of the increase in converts to Islam, warning that "those converting to another faith want to present themselves as particularly loyal, which could also mean to be somewhat more extreme than those who grew up with this faith" (DDP News Agency, February 6). A new study on converts to Islam in Germany has found that approximately 4,000 people converted to Islam between July 2004 and June 2005, which amounts to a four-fold increase from the previous year (Der Spiegel Online, January 18). The study was financed by the German Interior Ministry and was performed by Islam Archiv Deutschland. According to Muhammad Salim Abdullah from the Islam Archiv, who was interviewed by Der Spiegel, the converts now include many university graduates and middle-class citizens, where as before converts were primarily women "who married a Muslim partner." Wolfgang Schäuble, the minister of the interior, recently argued that Turkish migrants are especially prone to radicalization and warned of "home-grown terrorism" in Germany (Der Spiegel Online, February 5).