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Germany: Police arrest 100 after protesters clash at anti-Islam rally

Germany's local far-right party, the Pro NRW, held an anti-Islam rally. Germany's Salafists showed up to the rally to counter-protest.

Germany berlin neo nazi memorial 23 02 2012Enlarge
Candles were lit in a symbolic tribute to the ten known victims of a neo-Nazi terrorist gang at an official memorial ceremony on Feb. 23, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Several police officers were stabbed after two right-wing groups clashed with each other in the German city of Bonn, The Local reported. Tensions began when about 30 people from Germany's “Pro NRW” party, an anti-Islamic group, held up cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammed outside the King Fahd Academy, a Saudi Arabian school.

"The Pro-NRW people very deliberately provoked," one witness told the Der Spiegel

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And provoke they did: about 500 counter-demonstrators showed up to the rally. The counter-protesters were mostly Salafists, members of a right-wing, fundamentalist branch of Islam, according to the Local.  

The Salafists attacked the police guarding the anti-Islam rally with stones and bottles. About 110 Salafist protesters were then arrested, the Associated Press reported. Two of the injured police were hospitalized after being stabbed. 

Moderate Muslims in Germany have long tried to distance themselves from the Salafists, the Der Spiegel reported. The Central Council of Muslims issued a statement today condemning the Salafists for taking the bait from the Pro NRW party. "Reacting to provocation with violence is not acceptable for peace-loving Muslims because it is un-Islamic and, more than anything, plays into the hands of the right wing," the statement said, according to the Spiegel. 

Similar fights between the Pro NRW and Salafists have occurred before, but police said this protest was unusually violent. 

"This was an explosion of violence as we haven't witnessed in a long time," Bonn police chief Ursula Brohl-Sowa told the AP. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/120507/germany-police-arrest-100-after-protesters-clash-at-anti-islam-rally