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March 4, 2021 5:09 pm

German Muslim Leader Resigns After Socialist Group Exposes His Online Antisemitic Campaign

avatar by Ben Cohen

The facade of the DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs) building opposite the Cologne Central Mosque before it’s official inauguration in Cologne, Germany, September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The head of an influential Turkish Muslim association in Germany resigned from his position on Thursday after his antisemitic social media postings were exposed by a left-wing group, vowing at the same time to clear his name.

Mustafa Keskin — the chairman of the branch of DITIB, a Turkish religious group, in the university city of Göttingen — tendered his resignation after his posts on various social media platforms were brought to light by Die Falken (The Falcons), a socialist youth organization.

In a post on its website headlined “Against All Antisemitism,” the left-wing group said that it had been “horrified to discover that Mustafa Keskin, chairman of the Turkish Islamic Community of Göttingen, spreads antisemitic hate messages and conspiracy myths on WhatsApp and Facebook, incites against Kurds and Armenians, and refers positively to Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The group noted that Keskin’s “current WhatsApp profile features a picture depicting Donald Trump and Joe Biden as the ‘old’ and ‘new’ puppets, respectively, of investment bankers and, in the picture, ‘puppet master’ Jacob Rothschild.”

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“The Rothschild family has long functioned in antisemitic conspiracy myths and worldviews as a codeword for ‘the Jews,’ who dominate governments and the world through financial markets,” the group explained.

Keskin’s Facebook page, meanwhile, had featured “antisemitic and anti-Israel posts and images since 2013,” the group reported. “In one personal post, for example, Israeli soldiers are referred to as ‘Jewish dogs,’ while other images and posts suggest that Jews and Israelis would specifically kill children. In addition, Keskin repeatedly uses identifying marks of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Keskin also makes derogatory comments toward Armenians and Kurds.”

The group argued that the antisemitic and xenophobic material posted by Keskin reflected his sympathies with Turkish ultranationalism and political Islamism.

“The dissemination of antisemitic hate messages and conspiracy theories by a community leader in Göttingen cannot and must not simply be accepted,” Die Falken asserted.

Keskin strongly denied the accusations of antisemitism and pledged to take legal action against the left-wing group.

According to broadcaster NDR, Keskin said that his postings were intended only as criticisms of the Israeli government. He emphasized that he was an interfaith leader who had participated in the “Roundtable of Abrahamic Faiths” event with Jewish and Christian colleagues in the recent past.

DITIB, Keskin’s organization, nonetheless distanced itself from its former chairman in Göttingen. “None of the postings and opinions of the chairman can be tolerated by a DITIB functionary,” Zekeriya Altuğ, a representative of the group nationally, told NDR.

An abbreviation for “Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği” (Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion), DITIB is the largest Islamic umbrella organization in Germany, comprising over 900 mosques. Based in Cologne, its stated goal is to assist Muslims in the practice of their faith along with their integration into wider society.

However, according to the report assembled by Die Falken, other DITIB officials have spread similarly antisemitic messages on social media.

These officials “have not experienced any opposition from within their own association,” the group said. “Therefore, our assessment is that antisemitism and other right-wing positions are acceptable to DITIB.”

Die Falken began its investigation into DITIB after the latter’s youth wing applied for membership in the Lower Saxony Youth Federation, a regional body.

“We are dealing with a milieu in which right-wing and antisemitic positions are ‘quite normal,'” the group asserted. “We will therefore urge our state association to speak out against the admission of the DITIB youth, and also to inform other associations about this matter.”

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