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SOEST, Germany – More and more Germans are converting to Islam. Last year approximately 4,000 persons became Muslims.

According to the Central Islam-Institute in Soest, the numbers have been rising since the turn of the century. Up to the year 2000 the annual number of conversions stagnated at 300, but it has been rising ever since.

The institute’s director, Salim Abdullah, has no plausible explanation for this trend, as he told the evangelical news agency “idea.” In the past, converts were chiefly women, who married Muslims, or academics with an “affection for the Orient.”

Today people from all walks of life are among the converts, according to Abdullah, who is a German born Muslim himself.

The Islamic Fellowship of Germany attracts especially high numbers of converts – about 500 per year. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Baden-Wuerttemberg (one of the 16 federal states) the fellowship is associated with the radical Muslim Brotherhoods.

According to Abdullah there are 3.2 million Muslims in Germany. Most of them are Turkish immigrants. Their religious life is flourishing. Abdullah expects the number of mosques to double within the coming years.

Currently there are 143 full-fledged mosques, with 128 more in the planning or building stages. In addition Muslims gather in 2,600 prayer and meeting places.

Approximately two-thirds of the 82 million inhabitants are church members. The Protestant Churches have 25.6 million members and the Roman Catholic Church 25.8 million. Approximately 500,000 Germans belong to smaller, often evangelical churches such as Baptists or Pentecostals.

It has been noted by the churches that interest in religion is rising in Germany, but it is not focused on Christianity. Today, the citizens in Martin Luther’ home country are equally fascinated by esoteric practices, Buddhism and Islam.

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