The head of the Turkish state’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) visited its Belgian counterpart and met with politicians and the leaders of NGOs, including the head of Belgium’s former official Muslim body. According to the Belçika Diyanet Foundation’s Facebook post:
26 April 2022: Visiting the Belgian Diyanet Foundation within the framework of the visit to Western European countries, where many of our citizens live, on the occasion of Ramadan, President of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Ali ERBAŞ signed the book of honor here. After receiving information about the Belgian Religious Foundation’s activities, he met with NGO representatives at the fast-breaking dinner organized by the Belgian Diyanet Foundation. The program was attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Brussels, Dr. Hasan ULUSOY, Permanent Representative to the European Union (EU) Ambassador Mehmet Kemal BOZAY, Turkey’s Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Basat ÖZTÜRK, Director General of Foreign Relations of the Presidency of Religious Affairs Erdal ATALAY, Head of Turks Abroad Department Suat OKUYAN, Brussels Religious Services Counselor Abdullah GÜMÜŞSOY, President of the Belgian Muslim Executive Mehmet ÜSTÜN, Deputies, the Mayor and committees, representatives of active non-governmental organizations in Belgium, mosque associations and religious officials affiliated to the Belgian Diyanet Foundation attended. [Translated by Google with edits]
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Other media reports said that Erbaş specifically met with the heads of Turkish NGOs.
As the GIOR reported last October, Mehmet Üstün is the head of the Muslim Executive of Belgium (Exécutif des Musulmans de Belgique, EMB), Belgium’s former official Muslim body, and a member of a Belgian Millî Görüş organization. GIOR also reported last November that the Belgian Justice Minister had called for an investigation of the Executive and the withdrawal of its government recognition and funding.
The EMB is elected by some 300 mosques in Belgium, many of which have been linked to foreign and transnational influence actors such as Turkey, Morocco, or the Millî Görüş movement. Belgian public media has identified EMB member Rassemblement des Musulmans de Belgique as a group that represents Moroccan Islam and is financed directly from Morocco. The GIOR had additionally reported that foreign influence is especially notable in another umbrella organization which is part of the EMB and which includes the Diyanet, and the Rassemblement as well as Millî Görüş. The Belgian Diyanet Foundation controls around 70 mosques in Belgium and is the Belgian branch of the Diyanet, Turkey’s state institution for managing religious affairs.
Millî Görüş is a Turkish religious and political movement founded by Necmettin Erbakan, Erdoğan’s political mentor, which has called for an end to the secular regime in Turkey. The GIOR has reported about the German government’s assertion that Turkish President Erdoğan’s AKP party has intensified its relations with Millî Görüş in Germany.