The German government will reportedly pay 297,750 euros to controversial Religious Affairs Turkish-Islamic Union (DİTİB) which has close ties with Turkey’s Erdoğan regime and has turned into be a hub of espionage activities carried out by Turkish government against opposition groups in Germany.
The funding of the organisation, which was cut by almost 80 percent but Germany, was also being expected to cut all the funding to DİTİB after its imams were accused of spying for Turkey.
The imams working for DİTİB, which is an organisation operating mosques throughout Germany, were appointed by Turkish government in the past. A number of them were accused of spying for Turkey and fled back to their homeland to avoid prosecution.
However, German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger has reported that the German government will pay 297,750 euros to DİTİB anyway. According to the report, a list of organizations which will be supported by German government in 2018 shows that DİTİB will get a total subsidy of EUR 297,500.
Although this is only about a fifth of the 2017 and less than one tenth of the 2016 project funds, a total cut was being expected. For 2017, the German government had allocated 1,47 million euros to the DİTİB headquarters in Cologne as well as to DİTİB sub-associations. In 2016 the German government had paid 3,27 million to the DİTİB.
The religious-political spokesman of the Green Bundestag fraction, Volker Beck, has reiterated his demand for an investigation on cooperation with associations such as DİTİB, the Central Council of Muslims or Milli Görüş (National View).
It was reported that after a spying scandal involving DİTİB, Erdoğanist Turkish imams working in mosques, schools and prisons in Germany have refused security checks and quit their jobs. According to a report, when a children’s comic glorifying ‘martyrdom’ was published by the DİTİB in the summer of 2016, the then Justice Minister of Germany, Thomas Kutschaty had issued an order for security check for all imams working in government institutions. The security checks tightened after several Turkish imams were prosecuted for being a Turkish spy and collecting information about German citizens and institutions.
According to the data provided by Germany’s North Rheine Westphalia (NRW) government after the introduction of the obligatory security check for imams working in prisons, most of the imams have quit their jobs.
16 Turkish imams were accused of spying for the Turkish government on Gülen movement followers in Germany on May 2017. Ten imams who work for DİTİB had fled the country to avoid legal proceedings. A total of 20 Turkish citizens have been facing an investigation on charges of spying on followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, according to a report in the German Die Welt daily in April.
Tensions rose between Turkey and Germany over operations against DİTİB imams who were claimed to be spying on people affiliated with the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, an accusation strongly denied by the movement.
In February, the coordinator of DİTİB, Murat Kayman, announced his resignation over the allegations. In the same month, German police teams raided the apartments of four DİTİB imams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate who were suspected of acting as informants.
The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said in a statement that the imams had acted on an order issued on Sept. 20, 2016 by the directorate to profile Gülen movement sympathizers. In March, GBA launched an investigation into Halife Keskin, the foreign relations general manager of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), over his order to Turkey’s diplomatic missions and imams to gather information on people sympathetic to the Gülen movement.
It was also leaked to the public that not only imams but also members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had been surveilling members of the Gülen movement in Germany. The German Interior Ministry in March launched an investigation into whether MİT has been spying on suspected supporters of the Gülen movement in Germany.
Speaking in Passau in southern Germany in March, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said it was a “criminal offense” to carry out espionage activities on German soil and that they “will not be tolerated by us.” “That applies to all foreign states and all intelligence services,” he added.
“We have repeatedly told Turkey that something like this is unacceptable. No matter what position someone may have on the Gülen movement, here German jurisdiction applies and citizens will not be spied on by foreign countries,” he said.
The Big Brother Award 2017 was given to DİTİB in the category of politics for its spying on critics of President Erdoğan. The Big Brother Awards have since 2000 been bestowed by digital rights organization Digitalcourage on companies, organisations and individuals in Germany “who act in a prominent and sustained way to invade people’s privacy or leak (personal) data to third parties,” according to the group’s website.