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Germany to slash funding for Islamic organization DITIB

Berlin plans to cut project funding for the Turkish Islamic organization DITIB by about 80 percent, according to a newspaper report. DITIB has been criticized for having close ties to the Turkish government.

The central mosque of DITIB in Cologne, Germany (Getty Images/M. Hitij)

Despite concerns over the Turkish Islamic organization DITIB's relationship with Ankara, the German government will continue to provide the organization funds for projects, according to a newspaper report on Thursday.

DITIB, however, will be given significantly less money than in previous years, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper reported, citing an Interior Ministry response to an inquiry from the Greens.

Berlin plans to give the Turkish-Islamic union €297,500 euros ($349,800) for projects in 2018 — about 20 percent of what DITIB received in 2017 and less than 10 percent of what it was given in 2016.

For 2017, the year following the failed military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, Berlin gave DITIB €1.47 million in funding.

The German government gave the organization much more money in 2016 — to the tune of €3.27 million — for projects to help refugees.

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What is DITIB?

— DITIB, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, is Germany's largest Islamic organization, with a network of around 900 mosques and 800,000 members.

— The organization is based out of the western city of Cologne and engages in religious, social and cultural activities in Germany.

— Imams with DITIB allegedly spied on community members in Germany who were suspected of being followers of Fetullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric accused by the Turkish government of being behind the country's failed coup last July.

— The organization claims to be independent of the Turkish government, but DITIB imams are trained in Ankara and classified as civil servants by the Turkish state.

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Greens: Reconsider cooperation

The Greens' religious affairs spokesman, Volker Beck, told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the federal government should reconsider its cooperation with organizations such as DITIB, the Central Council of Muslims and the Milli Görüs organization.

Beck criticized some of the projects funded by the German government as "false investments" and said the amount of money given to the organizations was "astonishing."

The list of projects funded with money from the German government was also "incomplete," Beck told the paper, criticizing the German government's lack of knowledge about the workings of organizations such as DITIB.

"The state has to know who they are dealing with when it concerns project funding, pastoral counseling, Islam classes or even when recognizing [the organization] as a public corporation."

rs/rt (dpa, epd, KNA)

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