May 12 2019

German states backing mosque tax amid foreign funding fears

Support for a so-called mosque tax in Germany is on the rise amid increasing concerns of foreign funding for Islamic institutions that could come from anti-democratic sources, U.S. news outlet Politico reported on Sunday.

The federal government sees the potential move, which would be similar to the country's Christian "church tax," as "a possible path," Politico said, citing an answer to a parliamentary question reported by the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Several German states back the move, saying that German mosques should be able to finance themselves, it said.

Discussion on the tax in the country, home to some 5 million Muslims, is taking place amid concern about the influence foreign funding sources are having on the country's Muslim community.

For example, Germany’s Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (DITIB), 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. The institutes’s imams are paid by the Turkish government.

DITIB has been accused of spying for Turkey on German citizens, resulting in a temporary suspension of federal funding in 2017.

Germany has also rolled up its sleeves to close mosques over promoting radical and militant Islamist ideas, the news outlet reported.