Islamists against racism? Controversial speaker at tolerance event – Bavaria

Racism has many faces. It can be directed against skin colour, religion, nations, sexual identities, people’s disabilities. With an extensive program for the “UN Weeks Against Racism”, the foundation against racism from Darmstadt wants to fly the flag against hate and group-related enmity in Germany. Around 4,500 events will take place nationwide by April 2nd, an important one at the start in Augsburg. But there is criticism of this.

Minorities whose members are racially attacked are not automatically democrats themselves. In Augsburg, at the event, a public Friday prayer for the first fasting day of Ramadan, an official from the Association of Islamic Community Milli Görüş (IGMG) is on the stage. It is a flagship event that aims to be a sign of more tolerance and empathy. Several religious umbrella organizations, including Yazidis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Alevis and Baha’i, send their highest representatives to the city for the occasion.

Milli Görüş is a mosque umbrella organization that was founded in the 1970s by officials from Turkey for Muslim workers in Germany. It represents 325 mosque associations in Germany and has attracted attention for decades through radical Islamist demonstrations, proselytizing attempts and educational work. In Bavaria, she is still observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as part of the “legalistic-Islamic” spectrum. As the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution reports on request, the IGMG will also be mentioned in the new, not yet published report.

Jürgen Micksch, head of the Foundation Against Racism, has no problem with that. On the contrary. “We’re bringing the religious communities together. That’s not always without problems, there are a lot of debates between the groups. But that’s the only way.” He is a Protestant theologian and sociologist and has been well connected with Milli Görüş and other controversial Muslim initiatives for decades. He was a co-founder of numerous interreligious associations, including the Abrahamic Forum and the working group “Muslims and the Protection of the Constitution”. The IGMG is a long-term partner.

The system should be designed “in favor of an Islamic basic order and value system”.

A misunderstood association? As the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) explains on request, Bavaria is not the only one observing the IGMG and its mosque associations as “legalistic-Islamic” organizations. It is also the focus of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in five other federal states. “Legalistic” means that there is no incitement to violence, but that Islam is not only seen as a personal practice of faith, but as a comprehensive model of society: “They try to help shape the social and political system in the long term in favor of an Islamic basic order and value system and put their agenda in politics and to establish society,” according to the constitutional protectors.

Necmettin Erbakan, the deceased IGMG founder and former Prime Minister of Turkey, and his writings stand for a world view of irreconcilable opposites: Here the “Umma”, the just world community of Muslims. There the decadent, hostile West ruled by Jews: “Zionism is an ideology centered on New York’s Wall Street. The Zionists believe that they are the chosen servants of God, that other people were created as their slaves They assume that it is their job to rule the world,” he wrote in his manifesto “Just Order”. On the anniversary of his death, Erbakan is still honored in the IGMG associations with rituals and programs to “commemorate the ancestors”.

Jürgen Micksch explains: “Yes, the concepts of Erbakan are of course highly questionable. And it is necessary to deal with it. But we have achieved in many federal states that the IGMG is no longer observed. We also have our opinion in Bavaria according to no basis for observation.”

In Augsburg he cooperated with the Round Table of Religions. Helmut Haug, dean of the Catholic Church and head of the round table, explains that the Augsburg program was set by the foundation. He doesn’t see a problem in giving the IGMG a stage. “This is the only way to address issues such as anti-racism,” he explains in writing. When asked if anti-Semitism is a problem, he does not answer.

Herrmann Bredl, anti-Semitism officer at the Augsburg Jewish Community, is appalled. “Milli Görüs has not shown any serious, critical examination of anti-Semitic content and Israel-related anti-Semitism in Germany to this day. An initial distancing from Erbakan’s worldview, formulated more than ten years ago, was not continued or worked through with Jewish associations.” The appearance plays down anti-Semitism, the community condemns the prominent placement of the IGMG at these events “in the strongest possible terms”.

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