Turkish mosque group in Germany takes step back from Ankara
FRANKFURT – Agence France-PersseA key Turkish religious organization in Germany said on Aug. 14 it would further distance itself from Ankara after politicians and media raised concerns of foreign influence.
Mosque federation Ditib “is and will remain politically neutral,” spokesman Zekeriya Altuğ told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) newspaper.
“Apart from the imams supplied by the Diyanet, there is no financial support from the Turkish state or the Diyanet,” he said.
Some media and politicians have raised fears of divided loyalties among Germany’s roughly three-million-strong Turkish population -- and suggested Ditib’s imams could be relaying political messages from the Turkish government.
Ditib hosts imams trained in Turkey and paid by Diyanet -- most of whom are unfamiliar with German culture and may not even speak the language -- at its 900 mosques and Islamic associations.
Altuğ’s comments were more conciliatory than a statement released by Ditib on Aug. 8 in which the group rejected all criticism based on fears of foreign control of its imams.
The spokesman said Ditib would look for alternative sources of funding to train and pay preachers.
“In 10 years, at least half our imams will be socialized in Germany” thanks to a Ditib-funded program to send German-born imams for training in Turkey, he said.
Meanwhile, the state of Lower Saxony has delayed an agreement to recognize Ditib as its official Muslim civil society organization in the wake of the July 15 failed coup attempt.