DİTİB not to take part in ‘March Against Terror’ in Germany

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Women stand in front of a building of the Ditib association in Cologne, western Germany, on February 15, 2017. In connection with investigations against the Ditib mosque association on suspicion of espionage, German police searched the homes of four Turkish Muslim preachers on suspicion they spied for the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, officials said. The imams are suspected of having reported on followers of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the July 2016 failed coup attempt against him. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Oliver Berg / Germany OUT

The Cologne-based Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) is not taking part in a “March Against Terror,” which will be participated in by thousands of Muslims in Cologne, Deutsche Welle reported.

According to the report, the DİTİB decision not to attend the Muslim anti-terror demonstration on Saturday has been harshly criticized.

Cemile Giousouf, the integration commissioner for the joint parliamentary group of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), said there was no “objective reason to refuse to participate in the planned demonstration against Islamic terror.”

Cem Özdemir, co-chairman of the Green Party, also said he did not understand why DİTİB would refrain from showing solidarity.

The demonstration is expected to draw thousands of Muslims in Cologne who will show their stance against terrorism with a “Not with us” motto.

DİTİB, which is Germany’s largest Islamic organization, accused the demonstration organizers of sensationalism and said in a press release that the demonstration was insulting to Muslims.

DİTİB previously came under fire for involvement in espionage and spying on followers of Fethullah Gülen, who has been accused by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a military coup attempt on July 15.

The Big Brother Award 2017 was given to DİTİB in the category of politics for its spying on critics of President Erdoğan. The Big Brother Awards have since 2000 been bestowed by digital rights organization Digitalcourage on companies, organizations and individuals in Germany “who act in a prominent and sustained way to invade people’s privacy or leak (personal) data to third parties,” according to the group’s website.

In February, the coordinator of DİTİB, Murat Kayman, announced his resignation over the allegations and German police teams raided the apartments of four DİTİB imams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate who were suspected of acting as informants.

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said in a statement that the imams had acted on an order issued on Sept. 20 of last year by the directorate to profile Gülen movement sympathizers.

In March, GBA launched an investigation into Halife Keskin, the foreign relations general manager of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), over his order to Turkey’s diplomatic missions and imams to gather information on people sympathetic to the Gülen movement.

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