German media is reporting that an imam at a mosque organization connected to the Turkish government has praised the founder of Hamas. According to the n‑tv report:
June 21, 2021 The imam of a Stuttgart DITIB mosque has praised a founder and former spiritual leader of the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas in a Facebook post. This was reported by the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” (RND). According to the report, in the April 18 post, which has since been deleted, Imam Hasan Caglayan described Ahmad Yasin, who was killed by the Israeli military in 2004, as one of “five beautiful people” with “messages and teachings for all those who care about the cause around Jerusalem.” The association has long been criticized for its proximity to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Efforts to provide independent training for Islamic preachers recently saw the opening of Germany’s first state-sponsored Islamic college in Osnabrück, but DITIB’s influence remains immense. According to the report, Caglayan, imam of a DITIB mosque in Stuttgart, wrote on his Facebook page on April 18 that Yasin had become a “fighter for the Palestinian cause.” Those who have an inner faith can defy the whole world despite disabilities, he said. “If you want Jerusalem, there are no excuses and obstacles,” the imam reportedly wrote, referring to Yasin. The co-founder of Hamas, who was killed by the Israeli military in 2004, was its spiritual leader until his death. He was also a proponent of suicide bombings and military attacks on Israel. [Translated by DeepL with edits]
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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.
- In July 2021, we reported that DITIB chose not to participate in creating an imam training center financed by the German state.
- In July 2021, we reported that the chairman of a local DITIB branch has said that the group only canceled an event featuring a Turkish historian known for homophobic and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories because of outside pressure.
- In May 2021, we reported that DITIB would remain part of an Islamic education advisory board in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia while excluding another Islamic umbrella group.