Police in Germany have carried out searches at the homes of four imams who are members of the Turkish-Islam Union in Germany (Ditib) on suspicions that they were spying on supporters of the Gülen movement and passing on the information to the Turkish Consulate General. Europe must not stand by and watch as democracy is dismantled in Turkey and must take a tougher line with the Ankara-controlled organisation, commentators demand.
Berlin knuckles under for fear of refugees
The German authorities are far too lax with the Islamic union, which is subordinate to the religious authorities in Ankara, Frankfurter Rundschau criticises:
“It's no secret that Turkey has the Islamic Union on a string. … The half-hearted operation against Ditib shows once again that the German government is neither willing nor able to take a firm stance on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his efforts at consolidating his grip on power. Ditib bears major responsibility for the integration of the three million people with Turkish roots living here in Germany. They in turn must know that democratic rights allow considerable freedom but they do not allow breaches of the law.”
Ban canvassing for Erdoğan's policies in EU
The EU must actively oppose the destruction of democracy in Turkey - particularly since it is being promoted on European soil, the Wiener Zeitung demands:
“As the searches at the homes of members of the Turkish Islam Union for Religious Affairs (Ditib) and at its Austrian counterpart Atib clearly show, under the postulate of tolerance parallel and shadow societies have emerged that have little in common with a liberal and secular community. … The Council of Europe has published a damning report on the state of democracy in Turkey. But where are Europe's politicians on this essential issue? After a statement like this from the Council of Europe every Turkish politician and Turkish organisation should be banned from canvassing in all EU countries. Or is it okay to actively campaign within the EU for the abolishment of democracy in a country that is a candidate for EU membership?”