Germany is to train Muslim clerics to limit influence of Turkey-affilated DITIB

Germany rolls up its sleeves to train its own Muslim clerics, imams, following reports on the relationship between Turkey and Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in Germany, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Thursday.

German authorities, together with Islamic foundations, launched a pilot project in the northwestern city of Osnabrück in order to train imams, DW Turkish said.

Set up in 1984 as a branch of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), DITIB 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 in the past been accused of spying for Turkey on German citizens, resulting in a temporary suspension of federal funding in 2017.

In August, 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.

And, DITIB has been called by German politicians repeatedly to be independent of Turkey and the German government has sought to find ways of financing imams trained in Germany since imams on duty are paid by Turkey right now.