(New York, N.Y.) — Last week, German city-state Bremen shut down the Al-Mustafa Community Center, citing the organization’s close association with Hezbollah and its calls for acts of terrorism against Israel. The order from German officials effectively prohibits the use of the association’s labels in public, requires all activities to cease, and ensures the premises are closed. It is the latest in a series of actions German authorities have taken against the Hezbollah-aligned community center.
Bremen’s intelligence service previously identified the community center in 2018 as a hub for fundraising on behalf of Hezbollah. Authorities raided the center in April 2020 as part of the ban of all Hezbollah’s activities in Germany by the federal government. In July that same year, authorities accused some 50 members of the center of being “involved in the financial support” of Hezbollah by sending funds to Lebanese families of deceased Hezbollah fighters.
The shuttering of the Al-Mustafa center is the latest move on the European continent to defend against the Hezbollah threat, which has extended across the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Asia for more than four decades. Nonetheless, the European Union has designated only Hezbollah’s so-called military wing as a terrorist organization, despite Hezbollah’s leaders themselves clearly stating the group is a singular entity. In early 2018, a group of 60 European parliamentarians, led by MPs from Denmark, Sweden, and Hungary, wrote to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini that Hezbollah should be designated in its entirety.
While the European Union maintains its designation of only Hezbollah’s so-called military wing, since 2019 the United Kingdom, Germany, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Slovenia have all banned Hezbollah as a whole. Additionally, the United States, Canada, Israel, and multiple other nations around South America and the Middle East have designated Hezbollah as a whole as a terrorist group. The Netherlands had previously banned Hezbollah in its entirety in 2004.
Despite Germany’s ban on the group, the number of Hezbollah supporters in Germany is increasing. On June 4, 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution reported that the number of supporters of Hezbollah in Germany dramatically increased in 2020. Support for the group reportedly grew by more than 19 percent year-over-year from 2019 to 2020 with an estimated 1,250 known followers in the country.
To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Germany: Extremism and Terrorism, please click here.
To read the CEP resource Hezbollah, please click here.