German media is reporting that several German mosques belonging to the Turkish mosque umbrella organization DITIB have transferred donations from believers to an account of the Turkish consul general in Hamburg. According to the German broadcaster NDR:
October 26, 2022 Panorama 3 has a message from an internal chat addressed to the boards of all DITIB mosque congregations in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. It says: “A collection will be made after Friday prayers for the costs of the Hamburg attaché’s education expenses, and it is requested that the amount collected be transferred to the following account by 5 p.m. on Friday.” And then an account number of the Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey in Hamburg is given. (…) Osman Dikec has been in office as religious attaché at the Turkish Consulate General in Hamburg since mid-2021. With him, Turkey’s influence on DITIB North is said to have grown. Only at the end of May, Dikec was on a four-day meeting in Ankara, a photo shows him together with the Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One of his first official acts in Hamburg was to initiate that the regular fundraising in the mosque congregations from now on also collected for the needs of the attaché, allegedly to cover his educational expenses. The minutes of the meeting, which were attended by the boards of the mosque associations and signed by Osman Dikec, are available to Panorama 3. There, a donation campaign in October 2021 “in favor of the attaché” was decided. And not only that, the minimum donation amount is also specified: “The collected donation amount will be increased by the clubs over the amounts below 500 euros per club, and the amounts above 500 euros will be transferred to the bank account of our attaché without deductions.” The total donation amount has thus probably amounted to at least 18,000 euros with 36 municipalities. Because the announcement to the generally rather tight municipalities was clear: Who would not increase to 500 euros from the association’s assets, the “course teachers” would be cancelled. Insiders claim that Dikec even threatened the communities to withdraw the imam if too little money was transferred. (Translated from German using DeepL]
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DITIB, also known as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Türk-İslam Birliği), operates in several European countries. The organization is linked to the Diyanet, a Turkish government agency responsible for religious affairs. The Diyanet sends imams to DITIBs mosques, and their salaries are paid by the Diyanet or the local Turkish consulate. DITIB has a role in education about Islam in Germany, as evidenced by the cooperation between DITIB and state schools. DITIB representatives hold seats on the advisory boards of Islamic theology programs at German universities. Germany has cut funding to DITIB and sought to have imams educated in Germany to reduce the number of foreign imams and curb the Diyanet’s influence. Similarly, France has closed the Diyanet’s bank accounts in France, and French President Macron announced he was ending a program that allowed other countries to send cultural and language teachers, including imams, to teach in France without interference from French authorities.