Thousands of Muslims have taken part in a march in Cologne against Islamic extremism.
The demonstration, organised by Germany’s largest Muslim group, was intended to portray Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance. The march was supported by non-Muslim organisations and politicians of various parties. The protest came against a backdrop rising tensions between communities in Germany and neighbouring countries. On Saturday, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called on Muslims to integrate more in German society. In a speech in Berlin, honouring former German president Johannes Rau, he warned of the dangers of a clash of culture saying Muslims must take a stand against extremism. “They must acknowledge our democratic rules of the game,” he said. But he also added that German society must be willing to accomodate them. The issue of inter-religious relations has come to the fore following the recent murder in the Netherlands of a Dutch film maker who criticised Muslim practices.