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Prominent German Official Calls For Mosque Ban

In the wake of an ISIS-led terror attack that killed 12 and injured dozens at a Berlin Christmas market, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has called for a complete ban of Islamic mosques in the country.

"Salafist mosques must be banned, communities dissolved, and the preachers should be expelled as soon as possible," he said in an interview with a local paper, according to Deutsche Welle (DW). "Those who encourage violence do not enjoy the protection of religious freedom."

The call for stricter legislation comes as ISIS declared involvement with the Dec. 19 terror attack, in which a truck intentionally barreled into a West Berlin Christmas market. The terror organization issued a statement saying that the driver of the truck was a "soldier" of the Islamic State, according to The New York Times. 

Many saw the attack as a failure of Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open the country's borders to millions of refugees in 2015. Now, it appears as if many members of her cabinet are trying to toughen legislation and expel many of the asylum seekers living in the country. 

Thomas de Maiziere, Germany's interior minister, has also called on the government to ensure the swift deportation of rejected asylum seekers. According to The Telegraph, Amis Amri, the Tunisian native responsible for the Christmas market attack, was rejected asylum status in Germany but was still able to live in the country as Tunisia was still debating his nationality.

However, Gabriel maintains that the country also needs to do more to prevent the radicalization of German citizens. He claims that half of the individuals traveling to Syria to join ISIS are German or have German parents and that the fight against terrorism must also be a cultural battle against the Islamic religion, which he believes incites violence. 

"If we are serious about the fight against Islamism and terrorism, then it must also be a cultural fight," he said, reports DW.

To combat the threat of radicalization, then, he maintains that the country needs to further invest in its citizens and ensure that "urban areas are not neglected, villages do not fall into disrepair and people do not become more and more radicalized."

Sources: DW, The New York Times, The Telegraph / Photo credit: Arian Zwegers/Flickr

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