Turkish influence in Germany: Hüseyin Çiçek talked with Ahval

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Associated EZIRE-member and political scientist Hüseyin Çiçek talked on November 28 with the news platform Ahval about the Turkish influence in Germany.

As the central institution through which the Turkish government was exercising influence in Germany, he names DITIB, the Turkish-Islamic Union Religious Affairs, that is sending imams form Turkey to Germany.

These Imams imams “have an obligation to report what’s going on in their mosques, in their communities,” explains Çiçek. “They are also receiving their Friday sermons from Turkey, so there is a very strong connection.” he adds.

Especially the 500.000 Turkish people in Germany, who are still able to vote in Turkey, remained closely connected to their homeland. “The Turkish community in Germany created ties with Turkey from the first moment they migrated into Germany, and those connections have gotten stronger and stronger,” said Çiçek.

This connection became particularly clear at the opening of the DITIB-mosqe in Cologne last year, when alongside the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, Diyanet, three more high-ranking ministers were present. “They try to show that Turkey is not so far away,” said Çiçek. Diyanet was trying to influence the community not only through religious teachings but also to bring them in line with the policies of Erdoğan and the AKP.

Concerning the emergence of a Germany form of Islam, he states that “they are still in the beginning of this process to train imams in Germany”, adding that until it was completed Germany would need to continue to import imams. He expects that losing Imams form Turkey will not have much impact o the Turkish communities in Germany. “The connection with Turkey is not only on the level of religion,” he said, pointing to close-knit Turkish neighbourhoods as well as Turkish media outlets in Germany.

Regarding bomb threats against mosques Çiçek says: “We have to take these threats very seriously, because enmity against Muslims and Turkish people is rising”. This enmity was dating back to the arrival of Turkish immigrants in Germany and had nothing to do with Erdoğan or the AKP. Supporters of the right-populist party AfD would consider people with Turkish origins and Muslims not as part of the true German society.

Furthermore he emphasizes that this enmity had risen with the grwoing success of the Turkish community. As a recent example for the success he names the election of Belit Onay as mayor of Hanover. “It’s a logical outcome because people with Turkish backgrounds have been engaging in this field for decades.”

As a conclusion he states that Germany would be better off to accept a certain level of Turkish influence and success. “The Turkish community arrived on the political stage many years ago.”