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DW’s in-depth reporting uncovers the story of Salafism in Germany

In a six-part special report currently on, a team of DW reporters are presenting an unfiltered picture of ultraconservative Islam in Germany.

Salafism is an issue that is at the crossroads of important social questions facing German society involving culture, belief and integration. As Germany’s international broadcaster, DW’s journalism takes a global perspective and is uniquely suited to cover intercultural issues.

After many weeks of reporting and meeting with leaders of the Salafist movement along with community officials and ordinary people in cities, the project gets to the heart of this issue like never before.

The first article in the series covers how Salafism has become less publicly visible since 2016, but maintains strength as an “underground” force, working to draw in new adherents and expanding networks.

According to the report, “Salafism is an extremely conservative current within Islam,” whose followers, “interpret the Koran literally and orient themselves exclusively on how the Prophet Mohammed and his immediate successors lived the religion.”

The report reveals how many Islamist extremists start out as Salafists.

This is revealed by an especially gripping and emotional interview with the mother of a young German man who was killed fighting for IS in Syria. Before leaving everything behind to live with Islamist radicals, he had become a radicalized Salafist in Germany.

The DW journalists who produced the series said they used a variety of methods to reach interview subjects, including creating a Facebook profile and subscribing to Salafist leaders and following commentaries. For example, the mother of the German killed fighting for IS was first contacted on social media. And although many people weren’t willing to speak publically, social media remained a key aspect of reporting.

The DW series on Salafism in Germany is a stark and honest portrayal of the roots of Islamic extremism delivered with journalistic objectivity that allows each protagonist to openly share their beliefs. The result is a thorough piece of investigative reporting that everyone who wants to understand the future of Islam in Germany should read.


2018-11-02 | 1:04