German state of Hessen announced that it will stop cooperation on religion subject in public schools with Turkish Islamic Union for Religious Affair (DITIB) the largest Muslim NGO in the country, as Federal Government has been dragging its foot not yo recognize 5 million Muslims as a religious community.

Hessen state Minister of Culture Alexander Lorz announced the decision on Tuesday. Lorz said 2020 will be the end of cooperation between Hessen and DITIB citing ties with Turkey. German state has been pressuring DITIB to cut its ties with Turkey in the recent years. Turkey provides Imams for DITIB’s more than 900 mosques through out Germany. Other religious groups like Orthodox and Catholics of eastern European churches in Germany also bring priests from their native countries but face no similar pressure from German government.

DITIB has been providing curriculum and teachers to public schools in Hessen for the selective Islam classes. Total of 56 elementary schools and 12 middle schools through out the state have been providing Islam classes in cooperation with DITIB.

DITIB’s local body in Hessen released a statement following the announcement of the state decision. The statement referred the decision as disaster and said the decision serves neither the students, schools nor the teachers.

German government does not recognize Muslims as a religious community which prevent them from the right to train their own Imams. “German government wants to control the mosques. That is why it does not recognize Muslims. They want Imams to be trained in state Universities. If they want Turkey to stop sending Imams to Germany, they should simply give the strong 5 million Muslim community a recognition,” said a DITIB staff who only spoke on condition anonymity due to drawing more pressure from the state.

Academic Fared Hafez said in 2018 during a conference which gathered European Muslim leaders in Cologne that it was a natural right of Turkish Muslim community to maintain ties with the motherland.

German authorities accused DITIB of espionage back in 2017. Authorities charged 13 Imams for collecting information on Gulen movement members and passing it on to Ankara. All charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence.

DITIB official who spoke on the condition of anonymity also said that while Germany and the whole world has been battling a fatal virus that killed more that 200 thousand people globally, German authorities still taking time to increase pressure on country’s largest Muslim NGO. Some local authorities in Germany have been allowing mosques to recite Adhan -prayer call- out loud to support the Muslim community during coronavirus struggle. The policy of the authorities has been hailed by the Turkish Muslims whom have still been feeling excluded in the society despite 5 decades of existence in Germany.

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