Sat Jan 7, 2017 10:39PM
A fallen Christmas tree and debris on the ground are seen on December 21, 2016, in the area of the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, where a truck rammed into a crowd and killed 12 people on December 19. (Photo by AFP)
A fallen Christmas tree and debris on the ground are seen on December 21, 2016, in the area of the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, where a truck rammed into a crowd and killed 12 people on December 19. (Photo by AFP)

Germany's Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel says Salafist mosques in the country should be closed and their communities disbanded.

“Salafist mosques must be banned, the communities broken up, and the preachers expelled. And as quickly as possible,” RT quoted Gabriel as saying in an interview with the Der Spiegel on Saturday.

Gabriel made the remarks while commenting on the links being found between the Christmas market truck attacker and a Salafist preacher.   

He added that he had a “zero tolerance” for Salafism, which has been growing in Germany over the past few years with the support of Saudi Arabia.

Salafism is often equated with Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by clerics in the Arab country. 

Wahhabism is also the ideology of the Daesh terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for last year’s deadly terrorist attacks in the French capital.

German Vice Chancellor, Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel addresses the audience during a German-French digital conference on December 13, 2016 in Berlin. 

Gabriel added that the battle against extremism and radicalism must also be a “cultural fight,” which means strengthening the cohesion of society and ensuring that “urban areas are not neglected, villages do not fall into disrepair and people do not become more and more radicalized.”

On December 19, 2016, Anis Amri from Tunisia hijacked a truck, and drove it into a crowd shopping at a Christmas market in the German capital. The terror attack left 12 people dead. The 24-year-old was later killed on December 23 in an exchange of gun fire with Italian police near Milan.