According to Deutsche Welle:
German security officials conducted raids on two alleged Islamist groups in three states on Tuesday, suspecting the groups were involved in anti-constitutional activities. Authorities searched property belonging to the groups Invitation to Paradise (EZP in German), with offices in Moenchengladbach and Braunschweig, and the Islamic Cultural Center of Bremen (IKZB in German), in the city-state on the North Sea coast, as well as the private residences of some members.
A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry, explained:
EZP and IKZB are suspected of acting against the constitutional order by planning to create an Islamic theocracy in Germany. Salafists understand the Islamic religion to be an ideology of order and a system of law that is incompatible with parliamentary democracy. According to Salafist ideology, the laws can only be from God (divine sovereignty) and can not be made by the people… Salafi Islamist networks such as these organizations are opposed to liberal democracy and as such the laws-of-association can apply. For an embattled democracy, it is necessary — without waiting for the jihad to emerge in the form of armed struggle — to take action against anti-constitutional organizations. (Original German press release is available from the Ministry of Interior. Warning: I translated this myself and my German is even more amateur than my Greek.)
The Interior Ministry emphasized there is no evidence or accusation that the suspects were planning terrorist activity. Rather, the charge being investigated is the purposeful undermining of German constitutional principles.
I cannot find a bill of particulars and my inquiries to the German Embassy in Washington have not yet been answered. But it seems likely action is being taken under section 90b or section 92 of the German Criminal Code relating to Crimes against Peace, High Treason and Endangering the Democratic Rule of Law. If correct, this is a significant twist in the German anti-terrorism strategy. This may be the first time these provisions have been applied to Islamic organizations. The decision of the Ministry to target and reference “Salafist” groups is worth particular note. (In 2008 Khalil Al-Anani, then with the Brookings Institution, provided a brief backgrounder on Salafism.)
The chapter entitled Crimes against Peace, High Treason and Endangering the Democratic Rule of Law is the so-called “Special Part” or “anti-Nazi section” of the criminal code. Section 92 reads:
(1) Within the meaning of this law, a person undermines the continued existence of the Federal Republic of Germany if he causes the abolition of its freedom from foreign domination, the destruction of its national unity, or the separation of one of its constituent territories.
(2) Constitutional principles, within the meaning of this law, shall be:
1. the right of the people to exercise state power in elections and ballots and through particular organs of legislative, executive and judicial power and to elect parliament in general, direct, free, equal and secret elections;
2. the subjection of legislation to the constitutional order and the subjection of the executive and judicial power to law and justice;
3. the right to form and exercise a parliamentary opposition;
4. the replaceability of the government and its responsibility to parliament;
5. the independence of the courts; and
6. the exclusion of any rule by force and decree.
(3) Within the meaning of this law:
1. efforts against the continued existence of the Federal Republic of Germany shall be such efforts, the supporters of which work toward undermining the continued existence of the Federal Republic of Germany (subsection (1));
2. efforts against the security of the Federal Republic of Germany shall be such efforts, the supporters of which work toward undermining the external or internal security of the Federal Republic of Germany;
3. efforts against constitutional principles shall be such efforts, the supporters of which work toward destroying, invalidating or undermining a constitutional principle (subsection (2)). (The German Criminal Code is available in an official translation.)
Number 3 immediately above strikes me as the most likely legal basis for conducting the raids and collecting evidence.
In October Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech which seems to have presaged this new legal strategy. According to a Reuters report (I do my own translations only as a last resort):
“Now we obviously also have Muslims in Germany. But it’s important in regard to Islam that the values represented by Islam must correspond with our constitution,” said Merkel.
“What applies here is the constitution, not sharia.”
Merkel said Germany needed imams “educated in Germany and who have their social roots here” and concluded: “Our culture is based on Christian and Jewish values and has been for hundreds of years, not to say thousands.”
The Chancellor’s words are now being put into action.