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German pilot educates Imams domestically in a bid to limit foreign influence


German pilot educates Imams domestically in a bid to limit foreign influence

german imams
Photo: dpa

Germany’s Interior Ministry will usher in a pilot program that educates certain imams —a bid to stem foreign influence among the country’s Muslim population, specifically from Turkey.

There are 5 million Muslims in Germany, 3 million of which are Turkish. Imams from approximately 900 mosques in Germany are trained by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) – a group that is financed by the Turkish government. The German government has criticized the DITIB for its involvement in domestic political affairs and is testing whether this program will curb Turkish foreign influence.

It is uncertain how effective this pilot program will be for two key reasons. The first is that there are questions about the constitutional legitimacy of this pilot program, as the German constitution bars the government from involvement in religious affairs as a violation of personal freedoms.

The second question that has surfaced is the potential backlash from Turkey, especially if Germany doesn’t raise enough capital to push forward with the program. In the past, Turkey has discharged imams who don’t obey agreed upon teachings and has accused Germany of discriminating against its Muslim minority. It is unlikely that Germany will further strain relations with Turkey by banning the foreign financing of mosques, so Turkey could easily maintain its influence through its pocketbooks.

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