1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany cuts funding to largest Turkish-Islamic group

August 30, 2018

The German federal government had provided funds to DITIB for counterextremism and refugee aid programs. The Turkish-Islamic group has been under fire over a number of scandals.

DITIB's central mosque in Germany
Image: DW/M. Odabasi

The German government will no longer be funding projects run with the country's largest Islamic umbrella group, the Interior Ministry in Berlin announced on Thursday.

Since the start of the year, the federal government has not approved any funding for the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which has been at the center of a series of controversies. Funding has also been halted for projects in 2019.

Read more: Turkey's Erdogan to make state visit to Germany in late September

Most of the German government's funding for DITIB has involved support for counterextremism programs and aiding refugees. About €6 million ($6.9 million) has been provided to the group since 2012. The Family Ministry has also stopped approving projects with DITIB at the end of last year.

The Cologne-based group runs more than 900 mosques tied to the Turkish government's Directorate of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet, which provides imams to DITIB mosques.

In the wake of the failed 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the DITIB has been accused of acting as the long arm of the Turkish state.

Some imams are alleged to have acted on the orders of Turkish diplomatic posts to spy on followers of the Gulen movement, which Ankara blames for the failed coup bid.

Read moreTurkey's Gulen movement on the rise in Germany

The Gülen Movement Appears in Germany

In another scandal, DITIB imams reportedly called on worshippers to pray for a Turkish military victory against Syrian Kurds in Afrin.

DITIB again came under fire in April for holding a military re-enactment involving Turkish flags and fake guns handed to child "martyrs."

Last year, DITIB controversially refused to take part in an anti-terrorism march in Cologne.

"Those who spread nationalism, hatred of Christians, Jews or people of no religious affiliation and spy here at the behest of the Turkish government cannot be a partner in the fight against religious extremism in Germany," Christoph de Vries, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) on internal affairs, told Bild newspaper on Thursday.

Cooperation between DITIB is primarily a matter for the individual federal states, with the federal government promoting only certain projects. A number of states have already distanced themselves from DITIB. 

Sevim Dagdelen, the deputy parliamentary head of the Left party, called for federal states to cut all ties with DITIB and for the group's charity tax status to be re-examined.

"The federal government and the federal states must stop cooperation at all levels with Erdogan's outpost in Germany. It must be examined whether the preferential tax treatment of the association can be further justified. DITIB is not charitable, but a danger to the public," the politician of Kurdish origin said in a statement.

DW editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

cw/ks (dpa, epd, KNA)