The German-Turkish mosque association Ditib employs an imam in Hamburg who praised a leading founder of the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas. This is shown by WELT research, which was confirmed by Ditib.

In a now-deleted Facebook post dated April 18, 2021, Imam Hasan Caglayan described Hamas founder Ahmad Yasin as one of “five beautiful people” with “messages and teachings for all those who care about Jerusalem.” . Yasin founded Hamas with other Muslim Brotherhood in 1986 and called for violent resistance and suicide bombings against Israelis.

At the time of the Facebook post, Hasan Caglayan was the imam of the Ditib Mosque in Stuttgart-Feuerbach. At the time, the editorial network Germany reported on the post in which Caglayan wrote that Hamas founder Yasin had become a “fighter for the Palestinian cause”. “If you want Jerusalem, then there are no excuses or obstacles,” the Ditib Imam continued.

According to WELT information, Caglayan was withdrawn to Turkey after the media report. In the meantime, however, he is back in Germany: as an imam in the Ditib Mosque in Hamburg-Bergedorf. A video available to WELT shows Caglayan in the mosque; a photo available to WELT shows him at a general meeting of the Ditib Nord association.

The Board of Directors of Ditib Nord confirmed: “Mr. Caglayan works as an imam in one of our communities. However, as the Ditib Nord board member, we are not aware of the postings that you pointed out to us in your request.” A review is being consulted internally. In response to a query more than three months later, the board of directors announced at the end of May that the investigations were not yet complete and were about to be completed. The case will be “integrated and processed internally in a very broad-based review process”.

According to WELT information, Caglayan was also employed as deputy religious attaché at the Turkish Consulate General in Hamburg last year. This did not respond to multiple press inquiries. The religious attachés oversee the Ditib imams and are controlled by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. At the end of May, a strategy conference was held in Ankara to which the religious attachés were invited and were personally received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Hamburg there is a state treaty with several Islamic associations, including Ditib Nord. The state treaty was initiated by the former CDU mayor Ole von Beust and concluded in 2012 by the then mayor and current Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD).

The anti-Semitism commissioner of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Stefan Hensel, who was appointed by the Hamburg Parliament, made it clear: “If Ditib employs an imam in Hamburg who admires the Hamas ideology, then that is a scandal and a danger for him interreligious dialogue in our city,” he told WELT. Hamas aims to destroy Israel. “Supporters of this ideology of annihilation must not be given any space in Hamburg.”

The Hamburg CDU parliamentary group is demanding consequences. “It stuns me that a supporter of Hamas can be installed as an imam in a Hamburg community – after he has already been withdrawn to Turkey after these statements,” says parliamentary group leader Dennis Gladiator. “There can be no treaties and cooperation with political Islam, terrorist supporters and anti-Semites. These representatives are an urgent case for our security authorities and must not have a place in Hamburg.”

Hamburg is governed by a red-green coalition. The religious policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group there, Ekkehard Wysocki, says: “Anyone who supports or advocates terrorist organizations is no longer moving within the framework of our free democratic basic order. We therefore expect Ditib to carefully examine the allegations made and, if necessary, to take the necessary steps.” The state treaties with the religious communities opened up a dialogue that a free and cosmopolitan society needs.

His colleague from the Greens group, Michael Gwosdz, says: “From our point of view, a positive reference to Hamas is fundamentally out of the question. The allegations must therefore be clarified by Ditib.” In principle, regular exchanges with the religious communities are relied on, also so that such allegations can be identified at an early stage and examined comprehensively. The state treaties with the religious communities are an important basis for this exchange.

Gwosdz’ parliamentary colleague Gudrun Schittek sees it differently. “Anyone who appoints an imam who applauds a terrorist organization like Hamas must not be a contractual partner of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg,” says the health politician. “As long as the demarcation of Ditib in relation to the religious authority of Turkey has not been clearly clarified, Ditib may not be a contractual partner.”

Susanne Schröter, director of the Frankfurt Research Center Global Islam at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, says: “Journalists have often uncovered close ideological ties between Ditib and Hamas. Fundamental revisions of cooperation have never taken place as a result.” The Hamburg state treaty with Islamic associations should “urgently be evaluated critically and with the inclusion of problematic people and positions”.

Only on Wednesday last week did the Hamburg Parliament, with votes from the SPD, Greens and Left Party, decide to allow Ditib and other Islamic associations advisory membership in the state youth welfare committee of the social security authority. According to WELT information, two Green MPs stayed away from the vote in protest before this decision. WELT had already reported on the project in February.

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