Turkish media is reporting that three Turkish-German associations have protested a Turkish official’s request that a government-connected organization supply candidates for teaching in mosques. According to the BirGün report:
It was claimed that DİTİB (Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs) in Germany increased Turkish mother tongue lessons in mosques with the support of the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities and the Yunus Emre Institute. Noting that the place for Turkish lessons is schools, the German Turkish Teachers’ Associations Federation (ATÖF), the German Turkish Parent Associations Federation (FÖTED) and the German Turkish Society (TGD) reacted strongly to the provision of Turkish lessons in mosques. The joint statement read, “The duty of NGOs and especially our mosques is not to give Turkish lessons. Our mosques are primarily places of worship! Imams are not Turkish teachers! As in every country, language education is given in schools by teachers with pedagogical formation under the state’s auspices and supervision. Different languages should not be given to children based on religious or political views.”
“According to our observations and the information we have received, Turkish lessons are given in various associations and mosques under the name of weekend schools with the increasing financial support of the Presidency of Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) in recent years. Apart from this, in cooperation with Yunus Emre Institute, attempts are made to give Turkish language lessons in mosque associations by giving imams a Turkish instructor certificate. As in the example of Lippstadt, we consider the presentation of Turkish through mosques and non-governmental organizations as the biggest damage that can be done to Turkish.”
(Google Translated with edits)
Read the rest here.
The protest letter was written in response to the Düsseldorf Turkish Consulate General’s Religious Affairs Attache, asking religious officials and association presidents from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) to send candidates for teachers to teach Turkish within DITIB mosques. The organizations’ letter additionally states that having Turkish taught within mosques would:
- Lead to schools and associations offering fewer Turkish courses.
- Damage German public perception of Turkish, which is already suspicious of Turkish matters for political reasons.
- Weaken German-Turkish dialog.
- Polarize teaching the Turkish language.
- Further segregate the Turkish community.
The Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (Turkish: Yurtdışı Türkler ve Akraba Topluluklar Başkanlığı; YTB) is a part of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The YTB describes its mission as coordinating activities for and strengthening economic, social, and cultural relations with Turks living abroad and related communities and manage the Türkiye Scholarship Program. The YTB has cooperated with DITIB, German universities, and the Diyanet to run projects and has provided an increasing number of scholarships since its founding in 2010. YTB President Abdullah Eren has called its alumni organizations a “serious instrument” in the fight against Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey blames for the 2016 coup.
The Yunus Emre Institute (Turkish: Yunus Emre Enstitüsü; YEE) is a Turkish public institute which describes its responsibilities as “carrying out studies for Turkish teaching in the cultural centers established abroad… as well as conducting culture and art activities to promote our country, and giving support to scientific researches.” The institute has cooperated with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities, and the Ministry of National Education in projects abroad and acts in cultural and public diplomacy capacities. The institute operates in many countries throughout the world, including Germany.
The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Türk-İslam Birliği; DITIB) is a mosque umbrella organization that operates in Germany. Its charter states that it is linked to the Diyanet, a Turkish government agency responsible for religious affairs. The Diyanet sends imams to its mosques, and the local Turkish consulate pays their salaries. After a September 2016 Diyanet order requested that imams pass on information about supporters of Fethullah Gülen, German authorities investigated 19 imams under accusations of spying, ultimately dropping the case. 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.