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.
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