Authorities are cracking down on supporters of Islamist groups after a rise in public antisemitism.
Several hundred German police officers carried out searches across the country on Thursday targeting an Islamist association suspected of supporting the Iran-aligned Islamist movement Hezbollah, the Interior Ministry announced.
"At a time when many Jews feel particularly threatened, we do not tolerate Islamist propaganda or anti-Semitic and anti-Israel campaigns", Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement.
The police operation targeted the Islamic Centre of Hamburg (IZH) and five other organisations suspected of being linked to it. All are suspected of supporting Hezbollah, which Germany officially banned as a terrorist organisation in April 2020.
Searches were carried out at 54 properties in seven regions of Germany.
According to a statement from the Interior Ministry, the IZH's activities are aimed at disseminating the theocratic Iranian regime's "revolutionary concept", which is "suspected of being contrary to the constitutional order in Germany".
Specifically, the IZH controls the Imam Ali mosque in Hamburg. Germany's internal intelligence service suspects that from there, IZH is "exerting a strong influence" on other mosques and associations "up to and including a total takeover".
The movement allegedly has clear "anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tendencies" that are "propagated through various media channels", the ministry added.
The Hamburg authorities specified that the searches were aimed at gathering evidence with a view to banning the IZH association, which has been on the authorities' radar for several years. Its vice-president was recently expelled from Germany.
"The sooner IZH disappears completely from Hamburg, the better, and with today's action we have come a step closer to achieving this," said Andy Grote, Regional Minister of the Interior for the city-state of Hamburg, in a statement.
The arrests come against a backdrop of increasingly visible antisemitism that has reared its head since Hamas's 7 October massacre in Israel, which claimed more than 1,000 lives. A week ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to protect Jews in Germany as he commemorated the 85th anniversary of the Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom.
Germany and many other countries fear that the current conflict in Israel and Palestine will turn into a regional conflagration, particularly via Hezbollah's activities in Lebanon. There have already been daily exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel in the border area between the two countries since the start of the war.