German media is reporting that a high-profile Turkish cleric, the former imam of the mosque belonging to the presidential palace in Ankara, has been transferred to Cologne by the supreme Turkish religious authority. According to the German publication “Jungle World”:
September 8, 2022 Since the beginning of July, the central mosque of the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (Ditib) in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne has had another imam: Adem Kemaneci, 40, father of two children, joined the three other prayer leaders. The addition is a prominent one, as Kemaneci previously served as imam at the Beştepe Millet Camii. This mosque is located in the Turkish capital of Ankara — and is part of the grounds of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential palace there. It is therefore no ordinary house of prayer; Erdoğan himself opened it in July 2015. In recent years, the mosque has always played a very important role for the president, because “political stagings took place there on certain national or religious holidays,” Eren Güvercin, a freelance journalist and member of the Islam Conference, told Cologne-based Domradio in an interview. For these stagings, Kemaneci “with his beautiful voice, with which he can also recite the Koran very nicely, provided the necessary backdrop for Erdoğan to also signal to the people that Erdoğan is not only a strong political leader, but also has a religious claim.” (Translated using deepl.com)
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According to Güvervin, Kemaneci has met with representatives of the Turkish consulate general in Cologne, high-ranking AKP politicians and representatives of the AKP lobby organization Union of International Democrats just a week after the announcement of his new post. On this occasion, AKP politician Akif Çağatay Kılıç gave a “real incendiary speech and election campaign speech” for the AKP, according to the report.
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 their salaries are paid by the Diyanet or the local Turkish consulate.
The Union of International Democrats (UID), formerly known as the Union of European Turkish Democrats) describes itself as a voluntary NGO founded in 2004 that operates in several European countries. Its aims include increasing the economic, political and social activities of Turks and “sister communities” abroad without alienating their identities and values, as well as combatting Islamophobia. German media has described it as a lobbying group for President Erdoğan and his AKP that emphasizes Turkish values and customs. The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution monitors the UID, describing it as “nationalist” and incompatible with Germany’s free democratic order.