After controversial invitation

After controversial invitation

Half-moon on the top of a minaret at the Ditib's central mosque in Cologne © Oliver Berg

The chairman of the Rhineland-Palatinate Islamic association Ditib, Yilmaz Yildiz, has resigned. Reason is the invitation to an meeting with the controversial Turkish historian Ahmet Simsirgil, explained the Ditib national executive committee.

About the resignation the Ditib regional executive committee informed on Sunday in Mainz. Earlier, Secretary General Necdettin Aydin, who headed the organizing committee, had announced his resignation. Simsirgil, professor of Ottoman history at Marmara University, is known for anti-Western and anti-Semitic remarks.

Ditib regional association: Resignation is necessary

"I would like to are that the opinions expressed by Mr. Simsirgil in the media do not even remotely reflect my opinion, nor the opinion of Ditib," Yildiz informed, according to Ditib. The state board thanks Yildiz for his ten years of service as chairman, but considers his resignation necessary. "Because the invitation of a person like Ahmet Simsirgil, who in his texts and statements openly agitates against people because of their ethnic, gender, religious or ideological views, can in no way be accepted."

Simsirgil defends President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's denunciation of the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women a week ago in the latest article on his website. The historian is close to Erdogan and his AKP party and has numerous followers on his social media channels.

Commitment to common value principles

In April 2020, the Rhineland-Palatinate state government signed an agreement with Ditib and three other Islamic associations with the aim of recognizing them as partners for Islamic religious instruction. In the so-called target agreement, the Islamic associations and the state commit themselves to "common values" as the basis for their cooperation. "Together they oppose any form of violence and discrimination based on ethnicity and origin, gender, religion or ideology, disability, age or sexual identity. Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and religious extremism will be resolutely fought by both sides together," the agreement states.

The Hessian state government, on the other hand, canceled Ditib's participation in Islamic instruction in the same month. Education Minister Alexander Lorz (CDU) cited continuing doubts about the organization's independence from the Turkish state under President Erdogan as the main reason. The decisive factor is the chain of command from the Turkish president via his subordinate religious authority Diyanet, the Ditib federal association and its Hessian state association.

Rhineland-Palatinate Culture Minister Konrad Wolf (SPD), however, defended the state government's ongoing talks with Ditib in May 2020. In Rhineland-Palatinate, there have so far been no activities by Ditib that are directed against the free democratic basic order. He said there was no evidence so far of Turkey interfering in the affairs of the national association, but such interference was possible. This must be ruled out so that Ditib can be considered as a partner for Islamic religious instruction.

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