German Muslims Call Mosque ID Checks "Humiliating"

January 11, 2010

Author: Jane Yager

Source: Global Post

In the wake of the Christmas Day terror attempt aboard an American airplane, countries on both sides of the Atlantic have turned their attention to places within their borders where potential terrorists may be radicalized or recruited. But in one part of Germany, heavy monitoring of mosques and Muslim-frequented cafes is not just a matter of public debate. It is standard police procedure, and has been for years — a policy that has increasingly outraged German Muslims while failing to yield a single terrorism-related arrest.

In Lower Saxony, a state in northwestern Germany, Muslim worshippers heading to Friday services routinely arrive to find the street in front of the mosque cordoned off and armed police at the entrance. Those entering or leaving the mosque must show their identification papers. Sometimes the police search bags, ask questions, or bring those who cannot show ID to the precinct station. In one city, officers stamped Muslims on the arm after checking them.

In these controls, known as “unmotivated mosque checks,” the police are not seeking any specific person or investigating any particular crime. Rather, they are acting under a 2003 state law that empowers them to question and search individuals in public places regardless of any suspicion of wrongdoing in the interest of preventing crimes of "grave and international concern."