German officials on Wednesday launched a probe into 81 people following violent clashes between ultra-conservative Salafi Muslims and police outside a rally by a far-right political group.
Police questioned and released 44 members of the Islamic Salafist community and another 37 people who had gathered outside a mosque in the western town of Solingen for a counter-demonstration.
Authorities also searched the local mosque of the Salafist community, which is under observation throughout Germany by the domestic intelligence office for what officials say are suspected extremist links.
Prosecutors have opened a probe on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and disturbing the peace, the spokesman said.
The disturbances began when 25 supporters of the small extreme-right Pro NRW party held a campaign event using anti-Islamic caricatures ahead of an election in Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia on May 13.
Despite a police ban on the images, the party showed copies of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed first published in 2005.
The Salafists then tried to break through a police barricade, some brandishing rocks and sticks, police say.
“The deployed police officers, using pepper spray, were able to prevent a direct, violent clash between the two camps,” the spokesman told AFP.
Two officers and a passerby were injured in the fray, as was one of the Salafists.
Authorities estimate there are about 2,500 Salafists in Germany.