Are there conservative Muslims in Turkey?

Political Islam on the march through the institutions

Turkish conservative organizations in Germany and the proximity to the AKP. Background and commentary on a discussion with minefields

The parties are slowly becoming aware that representatives of so-called political Islam, also known as legalistic Islam, are increasingly represented in parties, authorities and charities. Experts have long warned that this is problematic.

In addition, the boundaries between Turkish nationalists and Islamists are often fluid. There are no easy answers on how to deal with this. The discussion about this harbors many minefields. Critics of this development are quickly accused of anti-Muslim racism or proximity to the AfD. In order not to end up in this drawer, problematic positions are concealed, played down or put into perspective.

Nobody asks which social system, for which values ​​the Muslim Brotherhood, Milli Görüs, Ditib, Atib or the Gülenists stand up. You have to talk to the groups or people, even if they have problematic positions. They are part of civil society and should not be marginalized, it is said, even in the left-wing camp. Would you also argue that way if it was a question of German fascists, citizens of the Reich, eco-fascists or Christian fundamentalists?

Conservative Muslims in the Bundestag?

Bülent Güven, a confidante and middleman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urged in the time, The parties should provide parliamentary seats for conservative Muslims. The very term "conservative Muslims" raises the question of who is meant by this and what is the purpose of this demand? Does it matter whether a conservative, liberal or leftist candidate for a political mandate is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or a Yazidis?

Güven applied for a Bundestag mandate in the Hamburg SPD and failed. For him this was proof that "devout Muslims" are deliberately excluded from political participation. Which brings us with Güven to the minefield of Erdogan supporters in Germany and to the minefield of "political Islam". Ali Ertan Toprak, Kurd and CDU member, writes in his commentary for the timethat German-Turks who sympathize with Erdogan and his politics are increasingly being avoided by the German people's parties.

This is only partially true, however, because Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet is known, for example, for having an affinity for the Erdogan regime and for people of Turkish origin who have contacts in nationalist-Islamist circles in his CDU environment.

Toprak is right anyway. Because the parties are now taking a closer look at how loyal the applicants are to German democracy. "A true German democrat cannot support an autocrat abroad who abolishes democracy, the rule of law and freedom of the press," writes Toprak.

What motive does someone in Germany use to run for a candidate in a democratic party if, like Bülent Güven, he supports a system in which democracy is being abolished?

The minefield of the Erdogan supporters

Bülent Güven is Erdogan lobbyist in the Union of International Democrats (UID, called UETD until 2018). As a representative of the UID in Germany, he has an important function for Erdogan and for the AKP. He was received personally by the Turkish President and was allowed to, according to the timetake a seat next to Erdogan on the chair and not on the sofa. The name Union of International Democrats is misleading. The organization is neither international nor democratic.

The UID is an unofficial foreign organization of the Turkish ruling party AKP and is monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Now the Erdogan government is further away from democracy than ever. At the same time, the UID has been spreading Erdogan's message to citizens of Turkish origin abroad for years:

"Get naturalized in the immigration countries, but serve your country of origin Turkey!"

The then head of the right-wing extremist MHP, Alparslan Türkes, called on his supporters to join the CDU "at a congress of the Turkish Federation in Essen's Grugahalle in 1996. The aim was to infiltrate the CDU in order to influence German politics in their own interests One example is the national-conservative association "Hür-Türk", founded in 1979, which describes itself as the Turkish branch of the CDU / CSU "(Gray Wolves in Germany).

It has now become known that AKP city administrations have smuggled up to 1,000 people into Germany with so-called "gray passports" in the past two years. The Hanoverian public prosecutor's office investigated a delegation from northeast Korgan in one case last summer. From 53 delegation members of the project for environmental sensitivity only four participants returned, so the Daily mirror: "Only people who were a burden to Turkey were sent to Germany, said AKP Mayor Sabahattin Kaya from Akacakiraz."

The Turkish Interior Ministry initiated investigations against several AKP city administrations, but that should only be a superficial smoke candle. Rather, the suspicion arises of bringing AKP members to Germany in this way in order to exert influence.

According to a report by the Jewish Rundschau referred the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung 2016 on a screenshot of the smartphone of the chairman of the regional SPD working group "Religion and Diversity", Zeynep Dogrusöz, whose WhatsApp profile was adorned with a quote from the Turkish blood-and-soil ideologist and founder of the fascist "gray wolves".

In 2017 the nationalist "Turkish Youth and Student Association - Türk Öğrenci Birligi" thanked Dogrusöz and the FDP local politician Ekim Bulut for their commitment to Turkish concerns when it came to rejecting the naming of a place after the Kurd Halim Dener, who was murdered in Hanover in 1994 went.

Cemile Giousouf, CDU member and 2013-2017 member of the German Bundestag, appeared at events organized by the fundamental Islamic "Milli Görus". She countered criticism with the argument that she had met with IGMG representatives to show solidarity because arson attacks were carried out on a Milli Görüs mosque. Giousouf is said to have also participated in events organized by the ATIB (Avrupa Türk-İslam Birligi) founded by "Gray Wolves", reported the Jewish review.

A vivid example of how right-wing Turks present themselves to the German public in a modern and cosmopolitan manner is the Alliance for Innovation & Justice (BIG) party. In her German publications she values ​​diversity, diversity and interculturality, in Turkish she presents herself as anti-Semitic and homophobic.

In 2019, party chairman Haluk Yildiz accused the Greens, after the election of Belit Onay as mayor of Hanover, of destroying family values ​​by promoting homosexuality. Onay is married and has two children. Yildiz criticized the Turkish voters of the liberal- muslim onay spicy:

"Either you are satisfied with being unprincipled, or you take an honorable stance in order to do justice to Turkishness and Islam."

In the Frankfurt Römer, the city council, the BIG party has joined forces with the Citizens for Frankfurt (BFF) party, a party that is located between the CDU and the AfD. This gave her parliamentary group status and a financial endowment of around 200,000 euros per year. The BFF kicks loudly Frankfurter Rundschau at Pegida events in Frankfurt am Main with cadres of the NPD, hooligans and other right-wing extremists who are known to be not exactly friendly to migrants.

The federal chairman of the BIG party, Haluk Yildiz, is a supporter of the Turkish President Erdogan, whom he defended on numerous TV talk shows. How does that work together? The publicist Eren Güvercin says:

"This alliance confirms that people who think identity and nationalism have more in common than what divides them."

Another example is the AD-Democrats party, the Alliance of German Democrats, also known as ADD, which was also founded by the Turks. She advocates more patriotism and national pride in a multinational and multi-religious Germany. She rejects women's research and equality of LGBTIQ * as "ideologically underpinned egalitarianism".

She criticizes sex education and homosexual equality. At party events, members often refer to their Ottoman roots. The party does not distinguish itself from the fascist Gray Wolves any more than it does from the Islamist organization Milli Görüs, reports the Bavarian Broadcasting.

The AD Democrats party was founded in 2017 by Berlin UID member Remzi Aru in response to the Bundestag resolution on the genocide of the Armenians. Aru organized several performances by Erdogan in Germany. On social media channels he incites against the opposition in Turkey, in Germany he called the green member of the Bundestag and Erdogan critic Özdemir a "cannabis breeder who steals the air mile" and a "political horror clown", and he called the left-wing member of the Bundestag Sevim Dagdelen "terror doubles" .

In 2018, the party announced in Turkish-language communications that it would support Turkey's invasion of Syria "to the end". In a conversation with the NRW state chairman of the AD Democrats, Selcuk Cingi, under an ADD election poster with Erdogan's likeness, chairman Aru predicts that they would take over government responsibility in 15 years Percent. To this day, they have not played a role nationwide.

Almost all Turkish conservative or Muslim organizations in Germany have the proximity to the AKP in common. The AKP propaganda in Turkey is carried directly to Germany through them, whether in events, social projects or via the Turkish religious authority Diyanet in mosques. Very often there are also connections to the gray wolves, to Salafists and sometimes even to the so-called "Islamic State".

That is what makes dealing with these organizations so difficult. If it were only about a conservative attitude based on democratic values, a constructive dialogue would be possible. But the lack of demarcation from nationalist, anti-Semitic and racist ideas on the one hand and a different discourse towards one's own clientele and towards German society prevent a constructive debate.

The AKP policy is preached in its own ranks and people are open-minded, diverse and modern towards German society. The smooth transition between the AKP lobby organizations and Muslim organizations leads to the next minefield: political Islam.

The minefield of political Islam

The term Islamism encompasses various movements and currents that have one thing in common: Islamists see Islam as a universal, God-willed order that encompasses everyone, really every area of ​​life. So Islam, so the conviction, is not only a personal, private religious matter, but also a legal and political one. Individuality, pluralism, equality, freedom of expression, secularity, popular sovereignty and many other achievements that make up democratic societies are rejected. Only religious commandments and sacred texts correspond to the will of Allah and thus stand above any worldly, man-made order. The goal of all Islamists is to establish a caliphate.

Ahmad Mansour

This ideological battlefield cuts across all parties. This discourse is about the alleged discrimination against Muslims, which is declared across the board as "anti-Muslim racism". Hardly anyone denies that there is discrimination against Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. So why the adjective "anti-Muslim"?

The discussion about wearing the Islamic headscarf in schools, the judiciary and other public offices regularly heats up feelings. It makes a difference whether a Muslim woman insists on the hijab, which is now considered a symbol of political Islam, or wears a loose headscarf that does not hide every hair.

There were other times in Germany. In the 1970s / 80s / 90s the Islamic headscarf did not shape the streetscape. Men and women went to the mosque to pray and dressed accordingly for the mosque visit. The strictly Islamic headscarf played no role, a loose headscarf was sufficient.

The fact that the headscarf and the recently popular "correct" Islamic clothing should be introduced in general without differentiation in the public service, in schools, daycare centers and courts, etc. is more recent. Today the CDU, SPD, Greens and Left have no problem with holding round tables with - to put it mildly - questionable people with connections to Islamist organizations.

Kübra Gümüsay is a very controversial person who is accused of having an unreflective closeness to the Islamist government Erdogan and the Milli Görus networks as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. Many decision-makers are not aware of what this triggers in the world of liberal Muslims or other religious minorities in our society.

For example, what does a Yazidi girl who was freed from the slavery of the Islamic State, whose family could save themselves from the genocide to Germany, feel when her teacher wears the hijab and "Islamically correct" fashion that she knows from her slavery? You cannot explain to a child that IS has used certain symbols or a style of clothing that are now accepted even in Germany.

For this child this is the return of his trauma. How is a teacher with a migration history who does not wear an Islamic headscarf and is therefore confronted, not taken seriously or even threatened by Islamist students and parents?

75 percent of Muslims in Germany consider their religion a private matter and stick with a liberal Islam, like most Christians with a liberal Christianity. Only 25 percent of Muslims are organized in the mosques of Ditib, Milli Görüs, the Gray Wolves or the Muslim Brotherhood and only a very small minority is organized in the Gülenist organizations. They stylized the hijab as a symbol of political Islam. They also called for a quota system for Muslims in the political mandates of the parties.

But religion is primarily a private matter and should not be used by any party to gain votes. Ali Ertan Toprak states in his comment in Die Zeit:

"No social actor to be taken seriously would use the same argument to ask about the faithfulness of members of parliament in order to find out whether Christians are adequately represented in the Bundestag. Not even the churches would indulge in such an absurdity."

It would be time for the federal government, the state governments and the welfare organizations such as the Diakonie or the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband to critically question their cooperation with the sub-organizations of Political Islam.

There are also liberal or secular Muslims who are eligible for funding. But they are still not heard by the parties, because they do not have any powerful lobby organizations such as Milli Görüs, the Islam Federation, DITIB or the Central Council of Muslims behind them.

The organizations of political Islam

The Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe (Atib) is a founding member of the Central Council of Muslims, provides its deputy chairman and is one of the organizations with the largest number of members in the Central Council of Muslims. The Federal Ministry of Family Affairs funded the association between 2016 and 2018 as a source of action in the business area of ​​the Federal Voluntary Service with reference to refugees.

Even if the evaluations of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution have to be critically questioned again and again because too often there is a lack of specialist knowledge and good research, its assessment that Atib is part of the right-wing extremist Turkish Gray Wolves is correct. Their exaggeration of Turkishness leads "to the systematic devaluation of other ethnic groups or religions, especially the Kurds and Judaism".

Other federal ministries and several federal states still support projects of the Central Council of Muslims and its sub-organizations, such as the Turkish-controlled Ditib, the Islamic Federation, to which the Islamist organization Milli Görüs also belongs, and organizations of the Gülen movement. The Gülen associations are often forgotten when it comes to assessing the direction of Muslim organizations.

Until a few years ago, Gülen associations in Germany denied that they belonged to the Gülen movement and that there were networks or structures in which they were integrated. Today they present themselves as "Gülen-nah" or "Inspired" by Gülen.In Germany, they are often traded as an alternative to the Muslim organizations close to the AKP, although they pursue similar goals as the organizations close to the AKP.

They too want a society and a state based on Islamic rules and laws. One should slowly understand that the effect of the various Islamist organizations becomes stronger, the less society deals with them critically and recognizes their real goals.

Political Islam does not want people here to coexist, mix things up and become more democratic. Because that would mean that some Muslims might become less religious over time. That others finally allowed their children to have a love affair before marriage. There are more women who don't need a headscarf to prove their attachment to religion. There would be more Muslims marrying Christians or atheists. But that is exactly what Islamism does not want.

Ahmad Manour

In Germany, attempts are being made at universities to set up courses that train politically independent imams. But these imams don't want the mosques. The Turkish umbrella organization Ditib only relies on its own imams trained in Germany. This is supposed to prove independence from Turkey. But how does that go together when Ditib receives his order, the texts of the Friday prayers, the interpretations of the Koran, the books or curricula directly from the Turkish religious authority Diyanet?

The CDU parliamentary group calls for the information provided by world "The Germany-wide establishment of chairs at universities on the subject of Islamism, a broad school study on Islamist influences, the establishment of a 'documentation center for political Islamism in Germany and Europe' and a corresponding group of experts in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, as well as the disclosure of foreign financial flows for mosque associations." This requirement sounds good - if the positions are actually filled with independent experts and not with people who belong to this spectrum.

The parties are slowly becoming aware of the complexity of the problem, albeit with different motives. The CDU parliamentary group has recently called for state cooperation and financing for Islamist-influenced Islamic associations to be ended. This affects several large umbrella organizations whose member associations are monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution - including the Central Council of Muslims.

"Political Islamism, which ostensibly acts non-violently, but stirs up hatred, agitation and violence and strives for an Islamic order in which there is no equal rights, no freedom of opinion and religion and also no separation of religion and state, has emerged in parts of our society made broad ", it says in a position paper of the group that the world is present. "All financial donations, subsidies, contractual relationships and collaborations with these organizations would have to be checked and discontinued, it is said. This also includes statutory tax breaks in the sense of charitable status."

This is a good place to start. In view of the many close CDU contacts with the conservative Islamist organizations, however, skepticism is called for. The question is, where does political Islamism begin for the CDU?

But this question must also be asked of the Die Linke party. Finally she accepted an imam of the Gülen movement at the three-religion house "House of One". And also with the Central Council of Muslims, whose vice-chairman Mehmet Alparslan Celebi is also a leading function of the Islamist-nationalist ATIB, the party apparently has no problem.

The party's executive board has been meeting with the central council since 2018. The 2018 meeting was also attended by ZMD General Secretary Abdassamad El Yazidi, who was banned from working as a pastor in Hessian prisons when the State Ministry of Justice became aware of its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In June 2020, a speaker from the ZMD appeared at an event of the left-wing parliamentary group. How does that fit together when Ulla Jelpke, member of the Bundestag of the left-wing parliamentary group, demands of the federal government "to end all indirect cooperation with this fascist association ... (meaning Atib, d. A.'s note) This also applies to cooperation with the Central Council the Muslims, as long as he does not distance himself from Atib ".


You have to look carefully at which organization is behind an applicant for a political mandate, or with whom you sit down at a table, because the person acts in the interests of his organization, no matter how well they master the modern discourse. Certainly it can happen that one happens to be at a meeting that also includes questionable representatives.

But you can straighten that out by distancing yourself from them. However, when a mosque actively invites a Salafist or a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood to its community to speak about Islamic teachings to the faithful, it is no coincidence, but deliberate. The imams know very well who they are from the Islamic community.

Everyone in the Islamic scene knows everyone else. And if there was "accidental" contact with Islamists with whom one does not want to have anything to do with, there would still be the possibility to apologize and to distance oneself with a substantive statement. However, this practice cannot be recognized by Ditib, the Islam Federation, the Central Council of Muslims or the Gülen organizations.

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