The participation of members of the Muslim Brotherhood at a conference in Germany last week has come under fire as more critics lash out at what they view as a wrong and the invitation should not have been extended to these members.
The conference was organised by The Turkish–Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) and was held in Koln, Germany. One of the critics of this participation was the Green Party MP, Cem Ozdemir, reported DW Turkish service.
Strong reactions were recorded not only in Germany but also in Turkey. Stuttgarter Nachrichten and Stuttgarter Zeitung newspapers published comments of German and Turkish descent politicians and public officials who heavily criticised the incident.
Ozdemir, who is an ex-co director of the Green Party, said in a statement argued such conferences and events were being used as a ‘long arm of Erdogan in Europe.’
He further went on to say the Turkish President sparks fears through ‘an assimilation narrative’. Holding that mosques are a place of prayer, Ozdemir stated: “these places of worship are abused by foreign governments and this should cause alarm bells to ring in Berlin and Brussels.”
Germany Federal Religious Freedom official, Christian Democrats Party (CDU) representative Markus Grubel said in a statement: “We strongly reject any attempts from abroad at exerting political influence on Muslims living in Germany.”
Joachim Hermann, the minister of domestic affairs in the Bavaria federal state and representative for the Christian Social Unity Party (CSU) argued that it is not out of question to have DITIB supervised by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In his statements given to Augsburger Allgemeiner, he alluded to how “it is particularly scary to know that DITIB invited the Muslim Brotherhood to their conference.”
“The Muslim Brotherhood represents a stance against the constitution, this means the state should be very careful in this case,” he said.
Germany Turkish Society General Secretary Gökay Sofuoğlu stated that “they are critical of Ankara’s influences. There should be more dialogue between German Muslims and state institutions. If DITIB became more transparent regarding its aims in Germany, a trust would develop towards DITIB.”
According to Kölner-Stadt Anzeigerpublished in Koln, there were prominent individuals from the Muslim Brotherhood who joined the DITIB conference at the central mosque. The conference was co-organised by the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate and DITIB, titled ‘2nd Gathering of European Muslims’.
According to the news piece, two representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood were seen at the conference, while 100 representatives from seventeen countries attended the conference according to DITIB. A DITIB representative who spoke to DPA, the German news agency, the participation of two representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood at a conference attended by 100 people should be considered in terms of the high number of participants compared to the number of people joining from the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to a document published by the Interior Ministry of the North Ren-Westfalia State where Koln is located, the Muslim Brotherhood is being watched closely by The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
In a statement on January 7, DITIB made a call for a new beginning and end tensions. During the members’ meeting on January 4, it was stated that a new board was elected and an emphasis was made on “dispelling the tension and return to more objective issues.”