Germany uneasy with DİTİB’s endorsement of Turkish military’s Afrin offensive

The German government has expressed concern about the Turkish government’s efforts to exert political influence in mosques linked to the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) in Germany to garner support for a military operation in northern Syria, according to a story in the Turkish version of Deutsche Welle (DW) on Friday.

Responding to a parliamentary question submitted by the Left Party to the German Federal Parliament, the government said calls at DİTİB mosques promoting the ongoing Turkish military operation in the Afrin region of Syria are worrisome.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The German government said in a statement that such actions help the importing of Turkey’s domestic issues to German society and increase the already existing tensions in the country. The German government also said it is against the mosques being involved in tasks other than providing religious services.

Last month German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply criticized the Turkish military offensive in Afrin, describing it as unacceptable. Speaking to lawmakers in the Bundestag’s lower house, Merkel said Turkey’s actions in Afrin were unacceptable despite its security interests. “I’m also condemning this in the strongest terms,” she added.

Meanwhile, a German public prosecutor’s office said on Friday police searched the offices of NAV-DEM, an organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in Hannover on suspicion of support for terrorism.

“Several people are suspected of supporting the PKK’s illegal structures in Germany and recruiting Kurdish youth for the PKK,” Frank Padberg, spokesman of the public prosecutor’s office in Luneburg, told the Bild newspaper.

The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993 but it is still active with nearly 14,000 followers, according to the country’s domestic intelligence agency BfV. NAV-DEM has organized various protests across the country since Jan. 20 against Turkey’s military operation in northwestern Syria.

PKK-affiliated groups and far-left organizations claimed responsibility for more than two dozen attacks on Turkish mosques, associations and shops in various German cities, including Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Aachen.

Turkey has long criticized German authorities for “tolerating” PKK activities in the country and pressured Berlin to take stricter measures against the propaganda, recruitment and fundraising activities of the group. (SCF with

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