World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey’s senior cleric on Friday hit back at “baseless allegations” against Turkish imams in Europe accused of spying.
Mehmet Gormez, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet, said that such “unfounded statements, stories and allegations… will cause irreparable trauma on the innocent and religious masses.”
On Wednesday, German police searched the apartments of four Turkish imams as part of an investigation into claims they had been spying on Turkish nationals living in Germany, particularly those suspected of links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization that Ankara has said orchestrated July’s coup attempt in Turkey.
In Austria, opposition lawmaker Peter Pilz has also accused Turkey of operating an informer network within the Turkish community.
In a statement, Gormez said the Diyanet had shared information with the German authorities and six clerics who “exceeded their authority” were returned to Turkey “as a gesture of goodwill despite never participating in any act of intelligence-gathering or espionage.”
He added: “The Directorate of Religious Affairs has always respected the legal norms applicable to religious legal entities with which it maintains contact.”
In Germany, clerics working for the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) are said to have spied on Turkish nationals.
Gormez said the DITIB had helped prevent the spread of religious extremism in Europe by standing apart from “radical structures, terrorist groups and circles that exploit religion” and criticized the “unreasonable and pointless” German investigation.
He stressed the Diyanet’s political impartiality and said it was “unacceptable” to target religious staff or organizations with “unfounded and baseless allegations”.
“These attempts have inflicted a moral and conscientious wound on not only over 3 million Turks who have made Germany their home but also on more than 5 million Muslims in the country,” he said.
Turkey provides advantages for foreign investors, says Cavusoglu
Turkish president condemns use of excessive force at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound by Israeli forces
Binali Yildirim says 3 abandoned buildings collapsed in Turkish resort as result of earthquake in the Aegean Sea
5 terrorists killed in air-supported operation, and 1 killed in fire exchange on land
Turkish defense industry head Ismail Demir says Ankara will continue its projects despite current dispute with Germany
Body of Turkish national to be returned following autopsy
Ankara wants to develop long-term, win-win business alliances based on mutual respect and equality, says Turkey's president
Cavusoglu speaks with Palestinian counterpart on the phone over developments in Jerusalem
Turkish president blasts German economy minister’s remarks 'aimed at frightening companies investing' in Turkey
Countries sign deals on energy, industry and trade
Turkish citizens arrived in Aegean resort of Bodrum after being stranded on Kos
Muslim Turks in Greece's Western Thrace region welcome promotion of new Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu
Premier Yildirim warns against making 'worrying statements' targeting businessmen keen on investing in Turkey
President will seek to resolve crisis among Gulf countries during visit to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar
Warrants also issued in capital Ankara for over 150 suspects, including 20 Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry staff