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German Chancellor Candidate’s Connections to Turkish-Islamist Groups

September 16th, 2021 16:02

Ahead of the Ger­man fed­er­al elec­tions on Sep­tem­ber 26th, Ger­man media is report­ing that the Ger­man Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union Chan­cel­lor Can­di­date Chan­cel­lor Armin Laschet has had sev­er­al con­nec­tions with Islamist orga­ni­za­tions con­nect­ed to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment. Accord­ing to the Die Welt report:

August 28, 2021 In the spring, the state gov­ern­ment of North Rhine-West­phalia announced that it would once again orga­nize Islam­ic instruc­tion at schools in the state with the coop­er­a­tion of Ditib in the future. In 2017, the coop­er­a­tion with Ditib had been ter­mi­nat­ed due to the espi­onage affair. Now, ref­er­ence was made to the asso­ci­a­tion’s amend­ed statutes, which guar­an­tee inde­pen­dence from the Turk­ish state. WELT has the cur­rent statutes of the region­al asso­ci­a­tion. It exhibits only mar­gin­al changes con­tent-wise. Off the record, the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion said that Ditib’s par­tic­i­pa­tion was set by the Min­is­ter-Pres­i­dent [Armin Laschet] any­way. Offi­cial­ly the min­istry states that this was a joint cab­i­net decision. […]

The oppo­si­tion react­ed indig­nant­ly to the renewed involve­ment of Ditib. Sigrid Her­rmann-Marschall, an expert on Islamism, crit­i­cized Laschet as a “door open­er for Islamists. She attests to his uncrit­i­cal deal­ings with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Deutsche Mus­lim­is­che Gesellschaft (DMG), close to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and Mil­li Görüs, the sec­ond con­tro­ver­sial Turk­ish reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty in Ger­many. The Fed­er­al Office for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion describes the ide­ol­o­gy of the Mil­li Görüs move­ment as “anti-sec­u­lar” and “anti-West­ern.”

Its most impor­tant organ is the “Islam­ic Com­mu­ni­ty Mil­lî Görüş e.V.” (IGMG). It, too, has appar­ent­ly found a foothold in the NRW CDU. Laschet paid a vis­it to an IGMG con­gre­ga­tion in Bre­men in 2015. And when one of his clos­est con­fi­dants, the State Sec­re­tary for Inte­gra­tion in North Rhine-West­phalia Ser­ap Güler, was elect­ed CDU direct can­di­date in Cologne in March, a func­tionary from the envi­ron­ment of the IGMG, also a CDU mem­ber, con­grat­u­lat­ed her effu­sive­ly on Twit­ter: “Our can­di­date (sic!) for the #Bun­destag elec­tion from Cologne-Mül­heim and Lev­erkusen has been deter­mined. Ser­ap Guel­er con­grat­u­la­tions and all the best for the elec­tion.” [Trans­lat­ed by DeepL with edits]

Read the rest here.

The arti­cle fur­ther details that Laschet, now Min­is­ter-Pres­i­dent of the Ger­man state of North-Rhine West­phalia, was pre­vi­ous­ly an inte­gra­tion min­is­ter who had close con­tacts with Turks and Mus­lims. It also states that pro-gov­ern­ment Turk­ish media have run sto­ries about a fake inter­view with Laschet in which he said he loved Turkey and that Laschet’s team has not protest­ed the fake inter­view. Addi­tion­al­ly, Pres­i­dent Erdoğan has wished Laschet luck in the elec­tions and said that Laschet would improve rela­tions between Ger­many and Turkey.

The Turk­ish-Islam­ic Union for Reli­gious Affairs (DITIB) man­ages over 900 mosques in Ger­many. At the same time, the Turk­ish  Direc­torate of Reli­gious Affairs  (Diyanet)  deter­mines the the­o­log­i­cal guide­lines for imams’ ser­mons, and the Turk­ish con­sulate pays their salaries. DITIB, how­ev­er, main­tains that it is inde­pen­dent of the Turk­ish state.  Ger­man politi­cians have sought to have imams trained in Ger­many instead of sent over from Turkey, in part to reduce Turkey’s influ­ence in the country.

Islamis­che Gemein­schaft Mil­lî Görüş (IGMG) is a part of the Mil­lî Görüş move­ment, a Turk­ish reli­gious and polit­i­cal move­ment found­ed by Necmet­tin Erbakan, Erdoğan’s polit­i­cal men­tor and which has called for an end to the sec­u­lar regime in Turkey. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) has report­ed that accord­ing to the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Erdoğan’s AKP par­ty has inten­si­fied its rela­tions with Mil­lî Görüş in Germany.