BERLIN, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel forcefully denounced religiously-motivated terrorism Thursday, calling on Islamic leaders to clarify their faith's relationship to actions of militants.
Speaking in Berlin to the lower house of Parliament in reference to the killings in Paris last week at the office of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, Merkel said the attack and related incidents, in which 20 died, "assumes being allowed to act, punish, kill on God's behalf."
"But for me, this is nothing but blasphemy. Terrorists' actual motivation is in their conviction that they stand above others because they believe they are god's representative, because they mean to have a historic mission, because they are convinced that they stand above others due to their faith, origin, descent, sex."
Merkel decried anti-Muslim sentiment in Germany, whose cities have seen anti-immigration and anti-Muslim demonstrations since October, notably a weekly rally in Dresden attended by 25,000 people last week. Saying that "Islam is part of Germany," she added, "We won't allow ourselves to be divided by those who use the terrorist attacks to place Muslims under blanket suspicion. Every marginalization of Muslims in Germany, every blanket judgment, is unacceptable."
She also noted German citizens' fear of Islam, assured there was no place for Islamic law under the German constitution and called on religious leaders to explain which version of Islam belongs in Germany.
"They (non-Muslim Germans) want to know why terrorists have so little regard for the value of human life and why they tie their crimes to their faith. They ask how they can trust the phrase that murderers who claim to act in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam. I want to emphasize that these are valid questions. I believe we urgently need a clarification of these questions by Islam's religious leaders. This issue can't be evaded any longer."
Leaders of Muslim countries offered different views of the incidents in Paris. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who attended a march in Paris Sunday in support of freedom of expression, called the magazine's satirical views on religion, including Islam, as "open provocation" Thursday.