Turkish media is reporting that German state politicians visited and praised their local branch of a Turkish-German mosque association with close ties to the Turkish government. The following is a partial summary of the Hürriyet report:
January 10, 2023 Saarland State Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) visited the Völklingen Selimiye Mosque of the Turkish Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB). During the visit, she met with members of the mosque’s board of directors, heads of the women’s, youth and parents’ branches and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The President of the Völklingen DITIB Selimiye Mosque Association thanked Prime Minister Rehlinger for her visit and provided information about the work and facilities of the mosque. Rehlinger expressed her pleasure in visiting the mosque, which she said produces good projects for the community and does good work. She congratulated the mosque association for its high level of social activities, saying it is not only a place of worship but also a part of the community and demonstrates that it is not closed to the community. She hoped that their activities would guide and enlighten other associations and thanked them for allocating their precious time for her. [Summary of an edited translation by DeepL]
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The article additionally reports that Völklingen Mayor Christine Blatt also praised DITIB’s activities, as did Regional MP Stephanie Meiser.
The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Türk-İslam Birliği; DITIB) is a mosque umbrella organization that 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 the Diyanet or the local Turkish consulate pays their salaries. DITIB has a role in education about Islam in Germany, as evidenced by the cooperation between DITIB and state schools, and 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.