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Extremism

German author in hiding after receiving Islamist death threats

A German author of Egyptian origin has gone into hiding after having recieved death threats from Islamists. Hamed Abdel-Samad is one of Germany’s highest-profile experts on Islam.

The news of the death threats against Abdel-Samad was announced by his publisher on Tuesday.

"Hamed Abdel-Samad is taking the call for him to be murdered seriously and has gone into hiding," the head of the Munich-based Droemer Knaur publishing house, Margit Ketterle, said in a statement.

The calls for the author to be killed apparently came after a speech he gave in Cairo last week in which he criticized radical Islam and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, accusing them of spreading "religious fascism."

Abdel-Sadam reportedly also said he did not intend to insult Islam but had a right to express his views.

Shortly after his speech Assem Abdel Maged, a leading member of the radical Egyptian group Gamaa Islamiya, used a television appearance to declare Abdel-Samad an "infidel."

Numerous Islamist web sites subsequently published a picture of the author with the words "wanted dead" written above.

"We are shocked by the persecution of our author and support him as much as we can," said Ketterle, who spoke of a "smear campaign that came directly from the sphere of the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi."

She also said Abdel-Samad stood for "critical education," not only in Germany.

The German government's human rights commissioner, Markus Löning also expressed shock at the news, saying there was "nothing to justify" such death threats.

"I expect the Egyptian government to clearly and unequivocally distance itself from [the threats]," Löning said. He also called on the government in Cairo to ensure his safety.

The 41-year-old Abdel-Samad was born in Egypt but moved to Germany at the age of 23. The political scientist who now holds German citizenship has published several books critical of Islam. In 2010 he became known to a broader audience when he featured in a five part television series in which he joined Polish-born German-Jewish journalist Henryk Broder on a road trip through Germany.

pfd/dr (dpa, AFP)