Everything that DITIB is making headlines these days is like a provocation. One of the largest Islamic associations in Germany remains a tragedy even with a new board, says Christoph Strack.

At the beginning of January there was a conference of European Muslims in the central mosque of the DITIB, the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion, in Cologne-Ehrenfeld – and it was attended by several people from the Muslim Brotherhood. Little by little, experts from several countries realized that not just one or two representatives of the radical Islamist movement were discussing it.

Also at the beginning of January, a new board was elected in Cologne, at the headquarters of DITIB . According to the head of the Frankfurt Global Islam Research Center, Susanne Schröter, the majority of the delegates arrived from Turkey.

An offshoot of the Turkish state

And yet the new board emphasizes that it wants a new start. The association wants to look to the future. And the main goal is to be recognized as a religious community. DITIB head Kazim Türkmen, Counselor for Religious Affairs, speaks. Where? At the Turkish Embassy in Germany. And two other government officials from Ankara are DITIB board members. Rarely was it clearer than today that DITIB is an offshoot of the Turkish state.

Sure, finally there is the Diyanet, the Turkish religious authority in Ankara. A massive construction, one of the largest authorities in the Turkish government. The chief post there – one of the most important offices. The authority sends imams to German mosque communities. The knowledge of the German language is secondary.

Promote Islam rooted in Germany

In November, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer launched the fourth round of the German Islam Conference. It is a subject area full of fat and trash. And yet Seehofer, who as interior minister is also responsible for religious communities, completed this difficult course with flying colors.

Deutsche Welle Strack Christoph Portrait (DW / B., Geilert)
Christoph Strack is responsible for the Religion Department

Seehofer brought together associations and individuals, an exciting or tense mixture with many interesting minds. He campaigned for an Islam that is “rooted” in German society, emphasizing the interest in training imams and Muslim religious teachers in Germany. And he warned that the Muslim communities and communities in Germany would have to organize themselves in such a way that they conform to religious constitutional law. And this includes the decoupling of foreign donors – and possibly also of foreign, not even the German language powerful staff. This must be felt by federations like the DITIB, which already linguistically do not insist on integration, as a declaration of war.

By the way, you can already hear reports that DITIB executives are specifically looking for young German-born Muslims or converts to win them over for imam training – and thus meet the state’s requirements, at least in lettering. On the other hand, there are increasing reports from the federal states about dissatisfied Muslims in the DITIB milieu, who break with the Cologne-based, very Ankara-obedient leadership. That explains the talk of the so-called new beginning. There is someone on the opposite lane as a ghost driver on the road and stops for a moment to start.

Under multiple pressure

DITIB is under multiple pressure – from Ankara, from its own ranks, from German politics. The current alleged new beginning shows more than clear that Minister Seehofer is on the right track. And he will know how deep the gap is between his statement before the Islam Conference “Muslims belong to Germany” and the slogan from Cologne “DITIB belongs to Germany”.

One can only wish the Islam Conference success – today more than ever.

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