The association “Secular Islam” has called on the German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (Social Democratic Party) to end the cooperation with the Central Council of Muslims (ZMD) immediately. The reason given by the association around the sociologist Necla Kelek was the cooperation between the Muslim Central Council and the “Islamic Center Hamburg” (IZH), which the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution classifies as extremist.
In a letter to the German Ministry of the Interior, Minister Nancy Faeser should “immediately order the IZH to be banned and the Imam Ali Mosque in Hamburg to be closed”. The “collaboration, cooperation and discussion formats” with the ZMD should be discontinued “as long as the IZH and its surrounding organizations are members there”.
The Central Council of Muslims in Germany, with its chairman Aiman Mazyek, not only has a credibility problem due to its cooperation with the IZH: The largest member association of the ZMD is the “Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe e.V.” (ATIB). As the German constitutional protection report for 2021 once again documents, ATIB is ideologically ascribed to the Turkish Gray Wolves, which, with 18,000 supporters, are one of the most populous right-wing extremist movements in this country. The Gray Wolves’ fascist ideology is not only heavily influenced by anti-Semitism, but its followers also systematically spread racist hatred towards members of the Kurdish, Yazidi and Alevi communities and other minorities.
At the beginning of the month, oral proceedings began at the Hamburg Administrative Court on the classification of the Islam Center as an extremist organization by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The authority rates the IZH and the Imam Ali Mosque it operates in Hamburg as an outpost of the Iranian regime in Europe. The trial in court is mainly about the classification of the center as an extremist organization by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The IZH – which operates the Imam Ali Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque on the Alster – is seen by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as an outpost of the Iranian regime in Europe and has been under surveillance for decades. Hamburg’s interior authorities recently expelled the deputy head of the IZH, Seyed Soliman Mousavifar, because of close contacts with terrorist organizations.
According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Islamic Center Hamburg represents an Islamist regime that is incompatible with the values of the Basic Law. The IZH and the Islamic Academy Germany, which is also named as an extremist organization in the reports from 2018 and 2019, reject this assessment and have appealed against it.
In the letter to Interior Minister Faeser, the association for Secular Islam now emphasizes: “For a long time, representatives of the Islamic Center Hamburg have been harassing and threatening the Imam Ali Mosque with their support of anti-Semitic activities, contacts with Hezbollah and its network, through spying on Iranians in exile from their network, the peaceful coexistence in Hamburg and the Federal Republic.”
The majority of the parties represented in the Hamburg parliament support the demand for the mosque to be closed. The government and the parties in the city state have ceased all cooperation with this organization, as has the Schura, the Council of Islamic Communities in Hamburg.
“We are surprised,” writes the association, “that the Ministry of the Interior and other ministries continue to work directly and indirectly with the representatives of the IZH via the Central Council of Muslims.” For example, the chairman of the ZMD, Aiman Mazyek, was invited to an event hosted by the Minister of Agriculture to break the fast. And the Islamic Center Hamburg is one of the key member organizations of the Central Council of Muslims, which in turn is an important contact for the Ministry of the Interior in matters of Islam.
The association for Secular Islam concludes: “The activities and practice of the IZH and its network organizations, including those with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, contradict the self-imposed obligation and statutes of the Central Council of any form of anti-Semitism.” According to them, it is “a non-partisan association of citizens with international origin and various religious orientations”. The association wants to give liberal Islam a voice and act as a counterweight to the mostly conservative-reactionary Muslim associations.
In the current proceedings before the Hamburg Administrative Court, the representative of the IZH rejected the allegations made in the reports for the protection of the constitution as not reliable. The IZH is the representative of the religious authorities of the Shiites and the contact for the mosque communities in Germany. “We maintain that the IZH has no political objective,” it said.
The fact that supporters of Hezbollah, which has meanwhile been banned as a terrorist organization in Germany, frequented the Blue Mosque, as alleged by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, is no evidence of anti-constitutional efforts by the IZH, and added: “If an RAF terrorist prays in the Michel church, then the Evangelical Church in Hamburg are in the report for the the officials?”
The representatives of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution recently made it clear that the Shiite religion is fully respected. It is not the subject of proceedings before the court. However, Iran’s state doctrine does not allow for a separation of secular and religious leadership. Since the Iranian revolution, this has also become clear among the leaders of the IZH. “You have to look at what kind of people they are and what criteria are used to select them,” said the head of the evaluation department. It is clear “that the IZH is close to Tehran in terms of content and organization”. It has not yet been announced when a judgment from the court in Hamburg can be expected.
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