Islamic radicals in Germany have launched an unprecedented nationwide campaign to distribute 25 million copies of the Koran, translated into the German language, with the goal of placing one Koran into every household in Germany, free of charge.
The mass proselytization campaign -- called Project "Read!" -- is being organized by dozens of Islamic Salafist groups located in cities and towns throughout Germany, as well as in Austria and in Switzerland.
Salafism is a branch of radical Islam, practiced in Saudi Arabia, that seeks to establish an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe -- and eventually the entire world. The Caliphate would be governed exclusively by Islamic Sharia law, which would apply both to Muslims and to non-Muslims.
Salafists also believe, among other anti-Western doctrines, that democracy, because it is a man-made form of government, must be destroyed.
Although Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), regards the Salafist groups as a threat to German security, Salafists have free reign in the country, and Salafist preachers are known regularly to preach hatred against the West in mosques and prayer centers that are proliferating across Germany.
The campaign to place a Koran in every German household is being spearheaded by a Rheinland-based Salafist, Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, a Palestinian preacher of hate, who leads a radical Islamic group called "The True Religion" ("Die Wahre Religion").
In September 2011, German public prosecutors launched an investigation into Abou-Nagie after he called for violence against non-believers in videos posted on the Internet. In his sermons, Abou-Nagie glamorizes Islamic martyrdom and says that Islamic Sharia law is above the German Constitution. He outspokenly believes that music should be prohibited, that homosexuals should be executed, and that adulterers should be stoned.
Abou-Nagie has tens of thousands of followers across Germany. Among them are two German Muslim converts-turned-terror suspects trained by Abou-Nagie and recently arrested in Dover, England, after British border police searched their luggage and found a document entitled "How to Build a Bomb in Your Mom's Kitchen," an article from the English-language online magazine "Inspire" produced by Al-Qaida in Yemen.
In one video, Abou-Nagie tells his audience that "whoever follows the Christian Bible or the Jewish Torah instead of the Islamic Koran will go to Hell for eternity."
Not surprisingly, Abou-Nagie sees it as his calling to save the German people from the wrath of Allah by converting them to Islam. To achieve this aim, Abou-Nagie founded Project "Read!" to distribute tens of millions of copies of the Koran throughout Germany.
The campaign is now well under way. More than 100 Salafist "information booths" have already been set up in dozens of German cities, particularly in the regions of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Hessen and Hamburg.
Abou-Nagie's approach is simple and effective: German Muslims are encouraged to purchase a copy of the Koran (red cover) in order to fund the free distribution of additional copies of the Koran (blue cover). In addition to the public distribution of the Koran on the streets and market places, non-Muslims can order a free copy of the Koran on an Internet website called hausdesqurans.de.
According to Abou-Nagie, Salafists have already distributed more than 300,000 German translations of the Koran, and a fifth print run consisting of tens of thousands of additional copies has already been ordered from the printing plant, which is located in Baden-Württemberg.
During the extended Christian Easter weekend from April 5-9, Project "Read!" entered into a new phase. According to the Berlin-based newspaper Die Welt, the Salafists have launched a "frontal assault" against people of other faiths and "unbelievers". On April 7, for instance, Project "Read!" organized a nationwide campaign to distribute the Koran in 35 German cities, including Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Heidelberg, Konstanz, Munich and Osnabrück.
According to Die Welt, German authorities view the Koran project, which fundamentalists are using a recruiting tool, as a "most worrisome" campaign for radical Islam. Security analysts say the campaign is also a public-relations gimmick intended to persuade Germans that the Salafists are transparent and "citizen friendly."
In an effort to improve their image, the Salafists have removed from their "information booths" all literature about the role of women in Islam or the supremacy of Islamic Sharia law over democracy.
Moreover, the German translation of the Koran has edited out many of the verses which call on Muslims to make war on non-believers. According to BfV, the German domestic intelligence agency, the German version of the Koran is "rather non-controversial."
German authorities also say, however, that Project "Read!" is being organized by Islamist networks that hold an extremist world view and a militant ideology.
A spokesperson for the Berlin branch of the BfV told Die Welt that "the objective of this campaign is to help bring those who are interested into contact with the Salafist scene in order to influence them in the context of their extremist political ideologies."
Although not everyone who takes a Koran into their home will convert to Islam, German authorities say Abou-Nagie's Project "Read!" is a establishing a breeding ground for anti-constitutional ideas.
In any case, the number of Islamic radicals in Germany is surging.
According to the BfV, there are an estimated 29 Islamist groups in Germany with 34,720 members or supporters who pose a major threat to homeland security. Many of them want to establish a "Koran-state" in Germany because they believe Islamic Sharia law is a divine ordinance that is to replace all other legal systems.
The head of the German Police Union (DPolG), Rainer Wendt, has told the Hamburg-based Bild newspaper that he is concerned about the presence of clandestine Islamic sleeper cells made up of Muslim immigrants and converts in Germany. He has called for the recruitment of undercover agents to infiltrate the Islamic environment. It is the "only way to monitor the scene," Wendt said.
"Radical Islamists live everywhere and nowhere in Germany. One cannot rule out that that nice young man from next door, who brings grandma her fresh bread every morning, is not in fact an Islamic sleeper and terrorist," Wendt warned.
The BfV is particularly concerned about Muslim youth who are prone to "rapid radicalization patterns," and who possess a "high willingness to use force" and "to attack." Some of them are under surveillance by the security authorities, according to Wendt.
The BfV is also monitoring a surge in online Islamist propaganda, much of which warns Muslims that they are not to integrate into German society. With an estimated 4.3 million Muslims, Germany has Western Europe's second-biggest Islamic population after France.
Some of the Islamists are Germans who recently converted to Islam. This would include former boxer Pierre Vogel, who converted to Islam and studied in Saudi Arabia. He is now an Islamic preacher who rails against Muslim integration into German society.
Many of the German converts to Islam are socially disaffected drop-outs from school and/or ex-convicts, and radical Islam is giving them respectability, according to German security services.
Some of the home-grown Muslim radicals are being alienated from German society by means of Sharia law, which is now competing with the German criminal justice system in all major cities in Germany.
Settlements reached by the Muslim mediators often mean perpetrators are able to avoid long prison sentences, while victims receive large sums in compensation or have their debts cancelled, in line with Sharia law. This is fomenting distrust for the established legal system, analysts say.
According to Kirsten Heisig, the author of the book "The End of Patience": In Germany "the law is slipping out of our hands. It is moving to the streets or into a parallel system where an imam or another representative of the Koran determines what must be done."
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.