German media is reporting that the Secretary General of the Islamische Gemeinde MIlli Görüs (IGMG) said in an interview that the IGMG employs 40 imams across Europe sent by the Turkish religious authority Diyanet. According to the German newspaper Die Welt, Ali Mete said:
January 10, 2023 These are only about 40 out of well over 600 imams and thousands of religious educators in our communities, and are replaced where possible by specially trained imams. They work for us for one year and are only paid by us. This means that the authority to instruct these imams lies exclusively with the IGMG and not with Diyanet. By the way, we had to hire Diyanet imams from Turkey because Germany changed the entry regulations for imams in 2010. (Translated using deepl.com)
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In the interview, Mete also declines to take a position on whether he considers Hamas, a terrorist organization. In 2010, the German Interior Ministry banned the Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation e.V. (IHH), an aid organization belonging to the IGMG. It was accused of having forwarded donations to Hamas.
Millî Görüş is a Turkish political movement whose aim is to transform Turkey into an Islamic state. The movement was founded in 1969 by former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, who, until his death, headed the Islamist Felicity Party in Turkey. The ideology and political agenda of Millî Görüş has called for an end to the secular regime in Turkey through education and preaching. In Germany, Millî Görüş operates as the IGMG, which oversees the work of Millî Görüş chapters in at least 12 European countries and states that it has over 127,000 members worldwide. Der Spiegel reported that between 2004–2009, IGMG officers funneled at least €9.5 million to the Felicity Party. The IGMG is repeatedly confronted with accusations of antisemitism.
The Diyanet or Directorate of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı or Diyanet) is a Turkish state institution responsible for managing religious affairs. The Diyanet was founded in 1924 to monopolize control of Sunni Islam in Turkey under the state. The Diyanet drafts a weekly sermon delivered at all of Turkey’s mosques, and their imams are civil servants employed by the state. Starting in the 1980s, the Diyanet began to manage mosques abroad and send imams there to promote Turkish Islam. After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, it quadrupled the Diyanet’s budget and installed leaders who supported its positions, whereas it previously had been secular and independent of state interference.