Turkish media is reporting that the president of a German mosque organization gave a speech to student dorm coordinators in Germany asking them to encourage their students to go on to work for the organization. According to the report:
October 12, 2020 Kazım Türkmen, President of the Turkish-Islamic Union of Religious Affairs (DİTİB), said, “Investment in education and people is the best investment in the future.”
Drawing attention to the importance of student dormitories in Germany, “Our student dormitories continue to serve with an increasing number day by day. Although though the concept of student houses is late, thank God, we are doing good work. Investment in education and people is the best investment in the future” Türkmen said. Chairman Türkmen continued saying: “Let our children who stay in our dormitories work in these institutions in the future. If he becomes a lawyer let him yearn to practice law, if he becomes an architect let him draw plans for a mosque for us, and if he becomes a teacher let him come to our mosques and give lessons to our children. If anyone has different ideas, let’s take these ideas and evaluate them. As the coordinators of dormitories, you are in the necessary place to touch their lives and hearts. Let us convey our sincerity to our students. Let’s establish a warm dialog with the students, consider this as a model of the Ashab al-Suffa. The Prophet would gather his students around him, take care of their food and drink, and if they were hungry, he would not go to sleep full. Everything is learned by seeing. We have to show how self-sacrifice is done. I congratulate each of you individually for giving your heart and effort to this work.”
(Google Translated with edits)
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Turkey has a history of using education as a method for influence and ‘soft power’, most notably in the previous promotion and now attempted takeover of Gülen schools. Turkey additionally attempts to use its diaspora in order to accomplish its political objectives in Europe and elsewhere.
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 their salaries are paid by the local Turkish consulate. 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 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 as a way to reduce the amount of foreign imams and curb the Diyanet’s influence.