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Turkish Imams Trained In Germany But Paid By Turkey

April 9th, 2021 11:21

Ger­man media is report­ing that a mosque orga­ni­za­tion with strong con­nec­tions to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment has claimed pos­i­tive results from a pro­gram to train imams in Ger­many instead of Turkey. Accord­ing to the Frank­furter Rund­schau report, the Turk­ish Islam­ic Union for Reli­gious Affairs pro­gram has also received a pos­i­tive review from the Ger­man inte­ri­or min­is­ter.   

March 28, 2021 Cologne (dpa) — The start­ing sig­nal for the imams “made in Ger­many” of the largest Islam­ic orga­ni­za­tion DITIB attract­ed a lot of atten­tion. Then it became qui­et. After a good year, the head of the acad­e­my is tak­ing stock: There has been a lot of inter­est and pos­i­tive feed­back from the mosque com­mu­ni­ties, the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty and the Ger­man pub­lic in gen­er­al, says Sey­da Can. “The par­tic­i­pants have tak­en a lot of steps for­ward,” reports Eyüp Kaly­on, the train­ing offi­cer for the imam train­ing pro­gram. Fol­low­ing accu­sa­tions against DITIB of act­ing as an exten­sion of Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan and demands from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and North Rhine-West­phalia to break away from Ankara, the asso­ci­a­tion had promised reforms. The new train­ing course began in ear­ly 2020 in the Eifel town of Dahlem — and raised high expec­ta­tions. Fed­er­al Chair­man Kaz­im Türk­men spoke of a “new begin­ning,” a “his­toric devel­op­ment not only for DITIB, but also for Ger­many.” State Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or Markus Ker­ber said at the time that DITIB was fac­ing a change of course: “Does it want to be a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty locat­ed in Ger­many or does it see itself as a for­eign orga­ni­za­tion of the Turk­ish reli­gious author­i­ty?” [Trans­lat­ed by DeepL with edits]  

Read the rest here.  

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 arti­cle con­tin­ues to say that the pro­gram is designed by DITIB, as opposed to the Diyanet. How­ev­er, the imams will prob­a­bly still be paid by the Diyanet, and DITIB is pur­su­ing sup­port from the Ger­man Inte­ri­or Min­istry:  

What does the cur­ricu­lum look like? “It’s real­ly a Ger­man pro­gram,” Can empha­sizes. “It’s not put togeth­er by the Diyanet.” In oth­er words, devel­oped entire­ly on DITIB’s own ini­tia­tive. There is not “one text­book,” he says, but dif­fer­ent mate­r­i­al, most­ly in Ger­man. Islam­ic schol­ars from sev­er­al uni­ver­si­ties lec­ture as exter­nal experts. The list of lec­tur­ers and the train­ing reg­u­la­tions will be pub­lished soon. DITIB is pay­ing for the train­ing and is cur­rent­ly dis­cussing sup­port with the Fed­er­al Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or. […]  

The new­ly trained imams will prob­a­bly also be paid by the Diyanet. There is cur­rent­ly no oth­er solu­tion in sight. 

 As a Ger­man aca­d­e­m­ic observestrain­ing imams in Ger­many does lit­tle or noth­ing to sev­er the Turk­ish influ­ence giv­en the rela­tion­ship between DITIB and the Diyanet:  

Even though DITIB trains its imams in Ger­many, she says, the asso­ci­a­tion remains depen­dent on Turkey. “Noth­ing has actu­al­ly changed because the Min­istry of Reli­gion con­tin­ues to main­tain con­trol,” she empha­sizes. “It is ulti­mate­ly a mat­ter of con­ceal­ing the fact that DITIB is not an inde­pen­dent insti­tu­tion.” [Trans­lat­ed by DeepL with edits]  

Recent GIOR report­ing on DITIB has includ­ed:  

  • In March 2021, we report­ed that the Dan­ish equiv­a­lent of DITIB and a local group with Islamist con­nec­tions were denounc­ing a law lim­it­ing for­eign fund­ing of mosques in Denmark.
  • In March 2021, we report­ed that DITIB’s book­store was sell­ing a book call­ing for death to those who insult the Prophet Mohammed and approv­ing “light beat­ing” for women.
  • In March 2021, we report­ed that a DITIB branch was plan­ning to invite a Turk­ish his­to­ri­an known for homo­pho­bic and anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries to speak at one of its events.
  • In March 2021, we report­ed that the head of a DITIB branch resigned over accu­sa­tions of anti­semitism.