Germany to impose “mosque tax” on Muslim communities to avoid “foreign influence”

DITIB central mosque in Cologne.

Politicians in Germany are planning to impose a “mosque tax” on its Muslim population to prevent “foreign influence”.

Leading members of three coalition parties, the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) supported the plan.

Thorsten Frei, member of the conservative CDU told German newspaper Die Welt that the aim is for “Islam in Germany free itself from the influence of foreign states and get a stronger domestic orientation,” and described the “mosque tax” as the most important step towards this objective.

Burkhard Lischka, a lawmaker from centre-left SPD described the mosque tax as something which is “worthy of discussion in order to cut the links between Muslim communities in Germany and foreign financing,” claiming that a mosque tax could assist Islam in Germany to become more “independent”.

The German government wants to cut the support of Muslim organisations who receive financial support from overseas, especially those of Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which currently runs more than 900 mosques in Germany for the country’s 5 million Muslims.

The German Islam Conference (GIC) last November, organized for over 10 years by the German Interior Ministry, also raised outrage for accommodating halal alternative meals.

The DITIB which is based in Cologne, is one of the largest Islamic groups in Germany.

It was founded in 1984 as a branch of Turkey’s religious body, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

For many years, it was a supporter in many government-backed counter-extremism and “integration” initiatives.

In 2017, the German prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into numerous imams linked with the DITIB over spying allegations.

German police raided the homes of four imams in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia for allegedly carrying out espionage on behalf of the Turkish government against the Gülenist movement, the group which is accused of masterminding the failed coup attempt in Turkey on 15 July 2016.

The Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) denied the spying allegations since the onset, stating that no orders had been sent to DİTİB, which is an independent organisation.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) in North Rhine-Westphalia found no evidence linking DİTİB to spying for the Turkish government.

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