Friday, February 24, 2017

The Radicalization of Turks in Germany

Hat tip Gates of Vienna and Vlad Tepes

It always pains me to write articles like this about Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan . When I was a DEA agent stationed in Italy in the 1980s, I twice had the occasion to visit Turkey and collaborate with the Turkish National Police. I enjoyed my visits to the country, and I liked the people. At that time, Turkey was still a secular Muslim-majority country, which even produced a great beer (Efes Pilsen). Unfortunately, times have changed in Turkey under Erdoğan, who is attempting to reverse the secular reforms of the country's national hero, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.  Radical Islam is on the march, and sadly, many Turks are being swept up in the wave of hate and violence.

That also poises a problem for European countries with large Turkish populations, especially Germany, where Turks have roots that go back a couple of generations now. They first arrived as Gastarbeiter (guest workers). To be sure, they suffered discrimination as they came and filled manual labor jobs. Some stayed and had children who have grown up in Germany. Assimilation has had mixed results.

Now, with some one million migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, and others (largely Muslims) roaming around Germany, radicalization is also a problem among the Turks.  Recent events have brought out the involvement of Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DIYANET) in influencing the Turkish diaspora in religious and political matters.

DIYANET is a long-established part of the Turkish government in religious (Islamic) matters. It is now under the control of Erdoğan. Last month, DIYANET was accused of telling Turkish mosques in Belgium to spy on their adopted country and report any criticism of Turkey and/or the Erdoğan government.

In Germany, the largest organization representing Turkish Muslims is DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs), an organization that collaborates with the German government on issues affecting their constituents. DITIB is technically independent of DIYANET, but is apparently susceptible to the reach and influence of the latter agency in Ankara. In December, both entities were caught up in allegations of spying within Germany in connection with suspected supporters of Fetullah Gulen, an Erdoğan opponent living in exile in the US. In January, DIYANET denied accusations that they had used DITIB to carry out spying in Germany. However, the same month, DITIN acknowledged that some of its preachers had, indeed, spied for Turkey.

But it gets worse. The German media outlet ARD has done an investigation into German mosques affiliated with DITIB and uncovered hateful preaching against the West, Jews and Christians. This article by Vlad Tepes features two disturbing videos. They are in German but sub-titled into English by Vlad Tepes.

Germany, like most of its European neighbors, is in a mess. Not only do they have to worry about the intentions of hundreds of thousands of newly-arrived Muslims, they also need to look out for radicalized Turkish-Germans. It is even more troubling that there might be a Turkish government component in that radicalization.

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