A couple in Germany are facing court after they stopped their teenage son from attending a local mosque on a school trip because they were afraid he would be “indoctrinated” by Islamic extremists.
In a letter to the school’s geography teacher, quoted by German news organisation NDR, the 13-year-old’s father said “for years we have been hearing reports about religiously motivated violence connected with Islamic people”.
The local authority then ordered the parents to pay a penalty of €150 euros each (£135) for their son’s truency, since regional laws in Germany allow parents to be fined if their children do not attend classes.
But the couple opposed the fine and now face a trial in a district court, German weekly Der Spiegelreported.
Lawyer for the parents, Alexander Heumann, argued the couple had a right to keep their son away from the mosque because they feared for his “bodily safety”.
He denied that the decision to prevent him going to the mosque was Islamophobic.
The couple are reportedly not religious and maintain that “you can not force someone against his free will to enter a religious building.”
Yet critics have pointed out that Mr Heumann is a former member of anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) and helped found the Dugida, a branch of the far-right Pegida movement, which warns against Islamisation of society.
Politics within Germany – as in much of the rest of Europe and the US – has become increasingly polarised following Angela Merkel‘s decision to welcome refugees to the country in 2015.