European Council to watch Diyanet's activities in Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will discuss activities of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in Europe and foreign funding of Islam concerning "Regulating foreign funding of Islam in Europe in order to prevent radicalisation and Islamophobia" headlined report on Oct. 10 in Strasbourg. 

The purpose of the report is to see to what extent the foreign funding of Islam in Europe is or is not transparent. The report asks if it is not transparent enough, to what extent this lack of transparency really allow the phenomenon of radicalisation to flourish.

The report suggests to monitor the activities of Muslim organisations in Europe and ask them to provide financial sources, as Austrian authorities did to reduce the influence of ATIB, the local branch of the Diyanet in Austria.  

Furthermore, imams of Turkish origin working for Diyanet who involved in espionage activities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were addressed as "allegedly abused their position to take part in such activities" in the report. 

The Diyanet sees Islam as one of the features of the identity of Turkish citizens living abroad or European citizens of Turkish origin and, as such, part of a political strategy based on a mixture of religious beliefs and national pride, which some observers have called Islamo-nationalism. Thus, even if the Diyanet trains, sends and pays the salaries of imams in mosques controlled by its local branches, like the ATİB in Austria or the DİTİB in Germany, their goal is by no means messianic.

In Jan. 2017, Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) admitted that some of its imams in Europe had spied for the Turkish government and supplied Ankara intelligence on people supposedly linked to Gülen movement, a religious group Turkish government accuses of masterminding the 15-July coup attempt in 2016. 

The report also has stressed that the member states should also be able to put a stop to attempts to "indoctrinate the youth by instrumentalising religion." 

"This seems to have been the case in Austria in a kindergarten in Vienna where a structure linked to Diyanet insisted in its pedagogical project on “Turkishness” and the religion," the report said.