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Turkish-German Associations Protest Government Teaching Turkish in Mosques

November 11th, 2020 14:28

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.”

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“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.