German media is reporting that a German city council has rejected a mosque construction plan from a Turkish religious organization with strong connections to the Turkish government. According to the RTL report, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs was involved with plans to construct a mosque in the center of Heilbronn, a German city located north of Stuttgart:
April 27, 2021 Despite years of planning by the city and the Islamic religious community DITIB, Heilbronn’s city council has overturned the construction of a new mosque in the city center. The development plan will not go forward now that the measure has been voted down. The Muslims [sic] express deep disappointment and announce that they will examine the body’s decision in detail. “This is a slap in the face of the Muslim fellow citizens and a fatal signal in a city that prides itself on its integration,” said Erdinc Altuntas, chairman of the Turkish-Islamic umbrella organization DITIB in Heilbronn, on Tuesday. “We will look into legal action and claims for damages.” According to him, the planning of the mosque has cost about one million euros. The city parliament had rejected the plans on Monday evening with 22 to 17 votes. According to the Green faction in the city council, the project failed, among other things, because of concerns that there could be traffic problems due to high visitor numbers and a lack of parking spaces. In addition, the size of the building is said to have played a role, as well as the proximity of the builder DITIB to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. DITIB is the largest Islamic association in Germany and the German branch of the Turkish state religious authority Diyanet. [Translated by DeepL with edits]
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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. Other GIOR reporting about DITIB has included:
- In April 2021, we reported about a DITIB imam-training program training in Germany,
- In March 2021, we reported that the Danish equivalent of DITIB and a local group with Islamist connections were denouncing a law limiting foreign funding of mosques in Denmark.
- In March 2021, we reported that DITIB’s bookstore was selling a book calling for death to those who insult the Prophet Mohammed and approving “light beating” for women.