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Turkish-German Groups Not Participating in State Training of Imams

July 14th, 2021 16:35

Two Turk­ish-Ger­man reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions with con­nec­tions to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment chose not to par­tic­i­pate in cre­at­ing an imam train­ing cen­ter financed by the Ger­man state. Accord­ing to the Dai­ly Sabah report:

June 16, 2021, Ger­many’s lat­est ini­tia­tive of launch­ing a state-backed train­ing cen­ter for imams has been shunned by lead­ing Turk­ish groups in the coun­try, as they argue that it con­flicts with the prin­ci­ple that reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties alone are enti­tled to train their lead­ers. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment launched the ini­tia­tive to help reduce the num­ber of Islam­ic lead­ers com­ing in from abroad. Around 40 aspir­ing reli­gious lead­ers attend­ed their first class­es at the Ger­man Col­lege of Islam in the north­west­ern city of Osnabrueck Mon­day, with the offi­cial inau­gu­ra­tion Tues­day. Lead­ing Turk­ish-Mus­lim groups in the coun­try, name­ly the Turk­ish-Islam­ic Union for Reli­gious Affairs (DITIB) and Nation­al Vision (Mil­li Görüş), chose not to par­tic­i­pate in the cre­ation of the Ger­man Col­lege of Islam, with the DITIB launch­ing its own train­ing pro­gram in Ger­many last year. Mil­li Görüş believes that the train­ing of imams should be “free from exter­nal influ­ences, espe­cial­ly polit­i­cal ones,” accord­ing to gen­er­al sec­re­tary Bekir Altaş.

Read the rest here.

The arti­cle fur­ther details that the train­ing cen­ter (The Islam Col­lege of Ger­many, Das Islamkol­leg Deutsch­land) is a two-year pro­gram open to those hold­ing a bach­e­lor’s degree in Islam­ic the­ol­o­gy or an equiv­a­lent diploma.

The Turk­ish-Islam­ic Union for Reli­gious Affairs (DITIB) man­ages over 900 mosques in Ger­many. At the same time, the Turk­ish  Direc­torate of Reli­gious Affairs  (Diyanet)  deter­mines the the­o­log­i­cal guide­lines for imams’ ser­mons, and the Turk­ish con­sulate pays their salaries. DITIB, how­ev­er, main­tains that it is inde­pen­dent of the Turk­ish state.  Ger­man politi­cians have sought to have imams trained in Ger­many instead of sent over from Turkey in part to reduce Turkey’s influ­ence in the coun­try. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on DITIB’s imam train­ing pro­gram in Ger­many, which found that the imams would still prob­a­bly be paid by Turkey, and train­ing the imams in Ger­many would do lit­tle to sev­er Turkey’s influ­ence over them.

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 that the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is assert­ing that Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Erdoğan’s AKP par­ty has inten­si­fied its rela­tions with Mil­lî Görüş in Germany.

Oth­er rel­e­vant GIOR report­ing includes:

  • In May 2021, we report­ed that DITIB will remain part of an Islam­ic edu­ca­tion advi­so­ry board in the Ger­man state of North-Rhine Westphalia.
  • In May 2021, we report­ed that Pres­i­dent Erdoğan and the Turk­ish Defense Min­is­ter met with the heads of the Ger­man branch­es of DITIB and Mil­lî Görüş, among others.
  • In March 2021, we report­ed that DITIB, the Ger­man branch of Mil­lî Görüş, and the Diyanet were sell­ing a book call­ing for death for insult­ing the Prophet Mohammed and approv­ing “light beat­ing” for women.