German media is reporting that the supreme Turkish religious authority has withdrawn its highest representative from Germany. According to a report in Die Welt:
The Turkish religious authority Diyanet has removed the chairman of the mosque association DITIB, Kazim Türkmen, from his position as religious authority in Germany. After a WELT inquiry, DITIB published a press release on the event. According to the statement, Türkmen’s four-year term of office had ended. He already returned to his main task in Turkey on August 13, 2022. According to Ditib this was “usual practice.” Türkmen will continue in his honorary post as Ditib federal chairman until a general assembly is held in the near future and a new board is elected. It is not yet clear who will succeed him. (Translated from German with Google)
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Türkmen had been elected DITIB chairman in January 2019 and had since been working to improve the organization’s image by suggesting independence from Turkish politics. On the other hand, members of the Turkish ruling party AKP had recently been calling for DITIB to take a stronger political stance.
DITIB is The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs. The mosque umbrella organization operates in several European countries and has a role in education about Islam in Germany, as evidenced by the cooperation between DITIB and state schools. DITIB representatives hold seats on the advisory boards of Islamic theology programs at German universities.
The Directorate of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı or Diyanet) is a Turkish state institution responsible for managing religious affairs. The Diyanet was founded in 1924 to monopolize control of Sunni Islam in Turkey under the state. After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, it quadrupled the Diyanet’s budget and installed leaders who supported its positions. In contrast, it previously had been secular and independent of state interference. Through organizations such as DITIB, the Diyanet provides and pays imams for Turkish mosques abroad. Diyanet imams have spied on Turkey’s opponents abroad and reported back to the government.