DİTİB’s Ankara links criticised in Germany by politicians there

DİTİB has once again come under fire in Germany where a politician there called for the organisation to rid itself of Turkish politics.

Christoph de Vries, spokesman for internal policy for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) harshly lashed the Turkish Islamic Union of Religious Affairs (DİTİB) for its continued comments on internal politics in Turkey.

Christopher de Vries, spokesman of CDU. (Photo: christopherdevries.com)

De Vries said the organisation, formed in 1984 and one of the largest Islamic organisations in Germany, has continuously shown how it favours the Turkish government. He also the organisation is under heavy influence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

DİTİB was also accused by a critical De Vries of being an extended leg of the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate and was financed by Ankara.

“Turkish intelligence increases efforts to infiltrate German state bodies”

The German politician said that an Islamic organisation like DİTİB, based on its alliances in Turkey, cannot be in Germany.

Governor Armin Lasched, of the North Rain Westphalia (NRW), has called on DİTİB to stand firm and be independent of Ankara’s influence.

With comments published in the Kölner Stadt Anzeigermagazine, Lasched suggestion the only way forward in terms of possible cooperation methods was only if DİTİB takes concrete steps towards independence from Turkey’s government. The NRW governor also said based on the current status quo on existing projects, there was no way to work with DİTİB at an institutional level.

A former co-chairman of the Green Party, Cem Özdemir, who has Turkish origins, called for a new start that will pave the way for DİTİB to disengage from Ankara both on ‘personnel’ and ‘content issues’.  

He also said he was amazed at how DİTİB still manages to find ground in German schools and religious organisations. Özdemir stated also that DİTİB is currently further away from being recognised as a religious organisation than ever before.

DİTİB wants recognition and educate children

As the largest Muslim organisation, DİTİB has 860 mosques and 200 000 members in Germany.

As criticism and tension against the organisation rages on, on January 4 they announced a new executive board.

In a speech last week in Cologne, DİTİB’s newly elected chairman, Kazim Turkmen said: “We are targeting being recognised as a religious community and want to focus our main mission on giving religious education to children and the young generation.”

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