Mosques Spying for Turkish Intelligence in Germany Prompt Raids, Government Probe
The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in Germany is the official arm of the Diyanet, the Turkish government's Presidency of Religious Affairs, which operates 900 mosques and employs 970 imams and religious officials. DITIB represents 70 percent of Germany's Muslim community and serves the more than three million German nationals of Turkish origin or Turkish citizens who live in Germany.
But investigations into the DITIB in recent months have revealed that the Turkish government-controlled mosques have been used extensively as part of the spy network of the Turkish intelligence agency, the Milli Istihbarat Teskilati (MIT).
Through a network of 6,000 informants in Germany, they have spied on the German-Turkish community and reported back to the MIT on activities seen as contrary to the increasingly dictatorial rule of Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
In response, German authorities have conducted raids on the homes of DITIB imams and suspended any government funding to the organization.
The spying affair has also prompted German media to investigate claims that the DITIB mosques are preaching extremism and openly hindering integration.
These reports have so far culminated today in a report that German authorities are investigating one of the top DITIB authorities who called on Turkish diplomatic missions to increase spying on the followers of U.S.-based Turkish Islamist Fethullah Gulen.
According to Deutsche Welle, this includes two members of the German Parliament:
Erdogan and the Turkish government have accused Gulen and his followers of complicity in the attempted coup in Turkey this past July. More than 40,000 people have been arrested in a purge of accused Gulenists.
The aborted coup in Turkey and the response by Erdogan have caused problems beyond the Turkish state, particularly in Germany with its large German-Turkish community.
The coup also prompted the MIT to begin to harass perceived opponents in Germany, which prompted media investigations beginning just a few weeks later: