Scientology makes deals with Islamic Extremists
11 Nov 2001
The "Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli
Goerues" attempts to evade a ban by
the Interior Minister
October 13, 2001
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
by Uta Rasche
Stuttgart A simple two-story block building in the industrial area of the Wangen district of Stuttgart aroused the curiosity of Baden-Wuerttemberg Constitutional Security. That is where the headquarters of the state association of the "Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Goerues" (IGMG) is tucked away. On the ground floor a Turkish vegetable retailer offers his ware for sale. In the simple office spaces of the second story of the main building, Turkish-Islamic Baden-Wuerttemberg is governed like a conquered territory: on one map are many colored tacks which mark the locations in which the "Milli Goerues" have mosques. On the shelves, there is not a single book in the German language; in the cafeteria, in which there is a television with continuous reports in Turkish on the American military strikes against the Taliban, one has difficulty trying to order a drink in German.
In almost every state in Germany, the "Milli Goerues" ("Nationale Weltsicht") have a district association, with the headquarters situated in Cologne. 500 mosque associations in Germany and 214 in the Benelux countries, France, Scandanavia, Austria and Switzerland are claimed by the association - independent figures do not exist. German Constitutional Security has had this largest (by membership figures) of the extremist Islamic organizations under surveillance since its inception in 1984. Constitutional Security assumes that it is the European arm of the "Virtue Party," banned in Turkey this year, and also the successor organization to Necmettin Erbakan's "Welfare Party," which was also banned. The story of its predecessor organization, which is characterized by its many changes of name and its many offshoots of competing groups, goes back to the 1970s. The "Milli Goerues" represent themselves externally as being involved in the integration of the Muslims that live here and as representing the interests of immigrants. But they have been accused of having two faces in that it is claimed that their goal is to break off from mainstream society, in the judgment of Islam expert Thomas Lemmen, author of a Friedrich-Ebert Foundation study on Islamic organizations in Germany. He said "Milli Goerues" want as much influence on Turks living in Germany as possible, so that one day there may be established a divine Muslim state in which there would be no difference between secular law and religious law.
Bavarian Interior Minister Beckstein is concerned that the IGMG will found its own party in Germany, or that it intends to infiltrate existing parties in order to implement its political concepts. That is disputed by its chairman Mehmet Erbakan, a nephew of the former Turkish Minister President Necmettin Erbakan. At a meeting in the Stuttgart IGMG cafeteria, he was greeted with deference by the Turkish retirees who spend their day there. A crowd of staff members of the state association is waiting for him there. The eloquent 35 year old doctor, born in Cologne and working full time for the "Milli Goerues" since 1997, understands that the advertising campaign which he launched six months ago for German citizens has raised some suspicion. "A migrant party or a Turkish party in Germany would always be a small niche party, I can't image doing that," he said. At the same time he criticized all existing parties. He said they do not represent the interests of immigrants and they do not have any concept of integration.
Erbakan does not understand integration to include efforts by the immigrant to adjust the the language, legal system and cult of the host country - he calls that "assimilation," which he strongly rejects. One can certainly see, he says, where the assimilation of the Jews in Germany or the Muslims in Bosnia got them - genocide. His interpretation of "integration" is that first the German state would have to provide for the unimpeded expansion of Islam: for permission to carry out Islamic religious instruction in state schools, to finance education of Imams from tax monies, and to include as law into ground usage plans the construction of mosques.
At an April European congress of the IGMG in the Hague city hall this year, Erbakan revealed the background of his plan to motivate as many members as possible to get the papers from their host country that would give them voting rights: "The Europeans think that the Muslims only came here to make money, but Allah has another plan." He said that Muslims should "present a strong constituency in European countries which would permit them to have at their disposal a political force that was not to be underestimated." In Forchheim in May he revealed at a meeting of the 140 board members of the Bavarian IGMG association that the primary goal of 2001 would be to increase membership numbers. "If we are the majority of German citizens, then we'll have more to say in politics. My greatest dream is to have IGMG members on the floor of the Bundestag." The ambitious son of a German mother and of a Turkish engineer, who exports used construction equipment from Germany to Turkey, does not see a future for himself in a Turkish party, but in a German party in which he intends to promote "integration," as he understands it.
Current "Milli Goerues" chairman Yavuz Calik Karahan has not concealed the strategy to be used. Only with their own party would it be possible "to establish an Islamic culture," he said at a gathering for the Swabian IGMG members in June. He said they could make it into the Bundestag in five years. There are widely conflicting statements as to how many "Milli Goerues" members could be mobilized to this end. Erbakan himself says it's 210,000, the Essen Center for Turkish Studies four years ago reported over 160,000, but the Constitutional Security report gives the figure at 27,000 adherents and falling. Some members were discouraged by the banning of the "Virtue Party" in Turkey; also in Germany, socialized Turkish youths have taken a critical attitude toward the hierarchically managed organization, as Marburg religion social scientist Ursula Spuler-Stegemann observes.
How secure the European branch of the "Virtue Party" feels in Germany can be deduced from the unconcealed propaganda for an Islamic divine state in its publications. "We promise that we ... will fight for the victory of the Islamic revolution" and "outside of the system of the Koran no other system or regime will be accepted," are in the April issue of the IGMG aligned publication "Yeni Duenya" ("New World"), distributed in the Swabian state association.
In conversation Erbakan, disputes any concepts of overthrow and affirms his loyalty to Basic Law. He said no Muslim has reason to be against the German Constitution because it enables him to live better and freer than in Turkey according to the rules of the Koran. Erbakan is on guard, especially since Lower Saxony has reported this week that it will attempt to attain a ban on the "Milli Goerues." Other Islamic extremist organizations, such as the "Caliph State" of Metin Kaplan, convicted of incitement to murder, and the "Jihad" and "Hamas" organizations, are also on Lower Saxony Interior Minister Bartling's (SPD) list. He is working with his Bavarian colleague Beckstein (CSU) to hurriedly gather the evidence, which will be submitted at the national level, needed to ban the organization. As soon as the religious privilege has been deleted from the association law, the ban procedure may be initiated.
The question is up in the air of whether the "Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Goerues," Erbakan wants the Turkish part of the name removed, could be banned. Despite the drastic rhetoric in the "Milli Gazette" in which "Islamic resistance movements" are cautioned against being accused of terrorism, it has not ever been proven that the "Milli Goerues" have instigated violence or have violated the Constitution. This might be easier with Kaplan's radical association, which split off from the "Milli Goerues" in 1984 and which today has about 1,100 members.
Erbakan's organization is accused of exerting great social pressure upon its members, particularly upon women. Women and children have their free time, their Koran instruction and house duties assigned so that they are as sheltered as possible from "cases of alien culture and immoral aspects of life" ("Milli Gazette"). Muslim girls not taking part in sports, maintains Erbakan, is their own free choice. Many use their religious foundation as a welcome excuse not to have to perform gymnastics with the others, he said. In Mosques, parents are called to escort children on school field trips to supervise the Muslim children. If the children did not go that might cause a scene, which Erbakan wants to avoid.
The IGMG representative never gets tired of expressing the wish for dialogue with non-Muslims. But when invited he does not show up, as reported by people including the Islam commissioner of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Bavaria.
Nordrhein-Westphalian Constitutional Security says it has proof that the IGMG and Scientology are cooperating. Apparently the "Milli Goerues" want to profit from the Scientologist understanding of business, and in return the IGMG will open up the Turkish market for Scientology. Bremen's Interior Agency suspects that the "Milli Goerues" have a connection with the misappropriation of investors' money in Turkish holding companies. Erbakan says that the "Jetpa" holding company provides the IGMG with yearly sales of from 400 to 450 million marks. "Focus" magazine reported that the IGMG supported the sale of weapons over the internet; that was disputed by Erbakan.
The "Milli Goerues" claims it is a religious community. Yet under this veil they develop commercial and mainly political operations that feed doubt as to their harmlessness.
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