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Turkish Influence Organizations Cooperating in France

December 12th, 2020 15:19

French media is report­ing on Turk­ish influ­ence on its dias­po­ra in con­nec­tion with coop­er­a­tion between two reli­gious groups and one NGO with ties to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment. Accord­ing to the Le Jour­nal du Dimanche report:

Long autonomous from the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, the Mil­lî Görüs is now at the ser­vice of Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Erdo­gan’s poli­cies and serves as a relay for the dias­po­ra in France. To do this, it works with the DITIB, the French branch of the Diyanet, the pow­er­ful state reli­gious admin­is­tra­tion that pays imams and con­trols 250 Turk­ish mosques, both on nation­al soil and abroad. More than 150 Turk­ish imams, civ­il ser­vants sec­ond­ed by the Diyanet who most of the time do not speak French, offi­ci­ate in these mosques. In total, the Turk­ish state dom­i­nates the French land­scape by hav­ing con­trol over near­ly 400 mosques and prayer halls, out of a total of about 2,500. Ahmet Ogras, a dis­tant cousin of the wife of the Turk­ish pres­i­dent, also chaired the French Coun­cil of the Mus­lim Faith (CFCM) from 2017 to 2019 on behalf of Turk­ish organizations.

[auto­trans­lat­ed by DeepL with edits]

Read the rest here.

Mil­lî Görüş is a Turk­ish polit­i­cal move­ment whose ide­ol­o­gy and polit­i­cal agen­da called for an end to the sec­u­lar regime in Turkey and oper­ates in at least 12 Euro­pean countries.

As the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) recent­ly report­ed, France has been weak­en­ing the Diyanet and DITIB by clos­ing its bank accounts and end­ing a pro­gram that allowed Turkey to send imams to teach in France. The GIOR has also report­ed that the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is assert­ing that Turkey’s gov­ern­ing Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Par­ty (AKP) has inten­si­fied its rela­tions with Mil­lî Görüş in Germany.

The Le Jour­nal du Dimanche arti­cle goes on to dis­cuss anoth­er impor­tant orga­ni­za­tion of Turk­ish influ­ence in France, which is also tied to Mil­lî Görüş:

Beyond mosques and schools, pro-Turk­ish polit­i­cal-reli­gious activism has inten­si­fied in recent years as the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment tries to strength­en its con­trol over the 500,000 Turk­ish cit­i­zens or those of Turk­ish ori­gin. The COJEP (Coun­cil for Jus­tice, Equal­i­ty and Peace), found­ed in the 1990s in Belfort by some Islamist and nation­al­ist mil­i­tants from the dias­po­ra, has played a pio­neer­ing role. This orga­ni­za­tion can be proud of being rec­og­nized and con­sult­ed by the UN or by the Coun­cil of Europe, with a clear­ly polit­i­cal agen­da. She is involved in the nega­tion of the “alleged Armen­ian geno­cide” and against her teach­ing at school, sup­ports the fight against “ter­ror­ism” of the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, and denounces Islam­o­pho­bia in France. COJEP, which has rec­og­nized finan­cial links with AKP, the rul­ing par­ty in Turkey, is led by Ali Gedikoglu, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist activist con­vict­ed of “incite­ment to hatred” in 2018. Accord­ing to him, Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan is “the Man­dela” of the 21st cen­tu­ry. His son Hamza Gedikoglu was appoint­ed advis­er to Pres­i­dent Erdo­gan this summer.

The Coun­cil for Jus­tice, Equal­i­ty and Peace (COJEP) is an NGO based in Stras­bourg, France, that describes itself as work­ing in the spheres of human rights, democ­ra­cy, fight­ing against racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion, inter­cul­tur­al dia­logue, and oth­er soci­etal mat­ters. COJEP was found­ed in 1992 in Belfort, France, and shared its head­quar­ters with Mil­lî Görüş. COJEP act­ed as the youth branch of the move­ment before split­ting from it and mov­ing to Stras­bourg in 1996 and COJEP’s founder and pres­i­dent, Ali Gedıkoğlu, has called Mil­lî Görüş his “camp.” COJEP has tak­en sim­i­lar posi­tions as the AKP inl­cud­ing using AKP talk­ing points in speak­ing against crit­i­cism of the Turk­ish gov­ern­men­t’s han­dling of the Gezi Park protests.

Addi­tion­al­ly, a recent GIOR analy­sis of the French Coun­cil of the Mus­lim Faith (CFCM), an umbrel­la orga­ni­za­tion of French Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions, report­ed that the CFCM includes mem­bers from dif­fer­ent Islam­ic fed­er­a­tions, many of which are tied to for­eign and transna­tion­al influ­ence actors, includ­ing Turkey as well as Moroc­co, Alge­ria, and the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.