Germany is to train Muslim clerics to limit influence of Turkey

Germany is looking to train its own Muslim clerics in the country to limit the influence of some countries, namely Turkey, on the Muslim community in Germany, Deutsche Welle reported on Saturday.

The close relationship between Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) and Ankara has been in the focus of German politicians recently. Last month, Germany proposed a law that makes German language skills a requirement for foreign Muslim clerics, imams, a move that could jeopardise the positions of hundreds of Turkish imams in the country.

90 percent of imams, who are on duty in some 2,500 mosques in Germany, come from abroad, majorly from Turkey, according to Deutsche Welle.

DITIB, that has been called by German politicians repeatedly to be independent of Turkey, rolls up its sleeves to find ways of financing imams trained in Germany since imams on duty are paid by Turkey right now.

According to DITIB secretary general Abdurrahman Atasoy, the religious institution is looking for financial resources to train Muslim clerics in Germany and pay their salaries.

The Islamic union, which was set up in 1984 as a branch of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), funds around 900 mosques in Germany and boasts a membership of around 800,000. While DITIB says it is not officially linked to the Turkish state, it has been accused of spying for Turkey on German citizens, resulting in a temporary suspension of federal funding in 2017.