National soccer player Antonio Rüdiger has “decisively distanced himself from any kind of extremism and accusations of Islamism” after his much-discussed Instagram post at the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The “Bild” newspaper published a comprehensive statement from the Real Madrid professional on Wednesday evening, who commented for the first time on the photo that he had already published on his account on March 11th. In the post, the practicing Muslim posted a photo of himself in a white robe on a prayer mat. The index finger of his right hand points to the sky. “May the Almighty accept our fasting and our prayers,” wrote Rüdiger as a greeting to Ramadan.

Now he explained in writing: “The gesture that I used is the so-called tawheed finger. In Islam, this is considered a symbol of the unity and uniqueness of God. The gesture is widespread among Muslims all over the world and was only… The last few days have also been classified as unproblematic by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.” In recent days, the photo has been “used by individuals to make unfounded accusations,” the professional wrote. He was probably also referring to the journalist Julian Reichelt, the former editor-in-chief of Germany’s largest tabloid “Bild”.

According to Reichelt, who now works at the Nius portal, Rüdiger raised his index finger and made an Islamist gesture. Reichelt’s criticism led to Rüdiger filing a criminal complaint against him with the Berlin public prosecutor’s office, and the German Football Association (DFB) also reported the matter to the Central Office for Combating Internet Crime (ZIT) of the Frankfurt/Main Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“Violence and terrorism are absolutely unacceptable. I stand for peace and tolerance,” wrote Rüdiger: “Respect and tolerance are fundamental principles that we all represent in our family.”

But he also recognizes “that due to insufficient attention, I gave third parties the chance to deliberately misinterpret my posting in order to divide and polarize,” emphasized Rüdiger: “But I will not offer a platform for division and radicalization, therefore “I have decided to make a clear statement after our two successful international matches.” He doesn’t allow himself to be “denigrated as an Islamist” and is therefore taking legal action: “This is about creating an atmosphere and dividing people; I will always resolutely defend myself against this.”