BERLIN, Germany — Florida pastor Terry Jones is not welcome in Germany. According to Der Spiegel, the German government has banned the Christian extremist from entering the country, after a far-right group here said it planned to invite him.
A visit by Jones would "run counter to the interest of maintaining public order," an Interior Ministry spokesman told the magazine. Another source said Germany's Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, had requested the ban on the grounds that Jones was a "hate preacher."
A fringe far-right group, Pro Deutschland, had indicated that it would invite Jones to a planned Berlin screening of the controversial movie about the Prophet Muhammad that he helped to promote. The film, "Innocence of Muslims," has triggered protests in many countries, including at the German embassy in Sudan.
Some have suggested that the German mission was targeted because of Pro Deutschland's previous anti-Islam activities, Deutsche Welle reported: last month, the group held rallies outside mosques in Berlin at which they displayed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims feel are offensive. Sudanese religious leaders had apparently denounced the rallies to their followers.
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The German government is keen to prevent Pro Deutschland causing further outrage. Several politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have condemned the group's plan to screen the movie, The Local reported; however, most commentators admit that there are no legal grounds to ban it outright.
Pro Deutschland's chairman, Manfred Rouhs, originally defended the planned screening to the Spiegel as a question of "freedom of art and opinion."
It seems the party's leadership may have since thought better of the idea: in a later interview with Deutsche Welle, deputy chairman Alfred Dagenbach said that the decision to show the film was taken before he had watched it in full. After seeing the whole thing, Dagenbach told DW that the video was "so disgusting that you actually can't support something like that."
After the attacks on Germany's embassy in Sudan, Foreign Minister Westerwelle roundly condemned "Innocence of Muslims," but stressed that it was no justification for violence.
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