Dispute over armenia resolution: no reconciliation during ramadan

Invitations to break fast and pressure from Turkey: The dispute over the Bundestag’s Armenia resolution continues to smolder.

The Turkish Embassy in Berlin is also annoyed. Photo: dpa

Ramadan is actually a month of reconciliation. Neighbors, friends and relatives are required to put aside quarrels and anger. But this year, when the Muslim month of fasting falls between June 6 and July 4, it is overshadowed, at least in many Turkish communities, by the dispute over the Armenia resolution.

This week, the German government’s integration commissioner, Aydan ozoguz, was uninvited at short notice from a joint fast-breaking event to which she had invited the Turkish-Islamic Union (Ditib) in April.

But one day before the joint meal, which was to take place in Hamburg on Thursday, the chairman of Ditib North, Sedat Simsek, wrote that for several days many Muslims had been appearing in the community who were not regular community visitors, "but who were constantly stirring up the atmosphere". His letter to the minister of state, obtained by Deutsche Presse-Agentur, says: "Due to this situation and because of significant security concerns, we ask for your understanding and ask you not to attend our iftar reception today."

ozoguz had received threats for voting in favor of the resolution in the Bundestag that calls the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a genocide just over 100 years ago. As for all other members of the Bundestag who are of Turkish origin, police protection for her was increased as a result.

Last week, Berlin’s Sehitlik Mosque, which also belongs to the Ditib umbrella organization, had already canceled a Ramadan fast-breaking event with members of the Bundestag and Bundestag President Norbert Lammert (CDU) after Turkish nationalists threatened protests on the Internet.

Instead, Joachim Gauck had become the first German president to attend a public iftar meal at a mosque in the Moabit district on Tuesday – albeit in a non-Turkish community.

"A huge loss of trust"

"With my invitation, Ditib has missed an opportunity to take a clear stand against extremists," Minister of State ozoguz commented on the cancellation on Thursday. "Ditib could have cleared up the accusation last night that they are being directed by Ankara, I very much regret that they did not take this chance," she added. It is said that the statement was ordered by the Ditib headquarters in Cologne.

Ditib is the largest Islamic association in Germany and officially reports to the religious authority in Ankara, which also sends the prayer leaders for the association’s mosques to Germany. On the one hand, the association has condemned the agitation and death threats against MPs over the Armenia resolution.

At the same time, however, Zekeriya Altug, chairman of the Hamburg-based Ditib regional association, had sharply criticized the eleven members of the Bundestag from Turkey who had voted for the resolution. Many members of his association would no longer feel represented by them by these MPs. "This is, of course, a huge loss of trust that further divides people here," he said.

Upset over Gunter Krings

In Turkey, the issue continues to make waves. Turkish newspapers have sharply and personally criticized the Turkish-born MPs in particular, and the home municipality of Cem ozdemir’s father in the northern Turkish province of Tokat has even revoked the Green Party leader’s honorary citizenship because of his support for the Armenia resolution. No one has to find the resolution good, not even the Turkish associations in Germany, ozdemir said on RBB. "Only what is not acceptable are death threats, calls for blood tests," he said, alluding to Turkish President Erdogan.

A statement by CDU politician Gunter Krings (CDU), who had threatened Turks living in Germany with consequences from the foreigners authorities if they took part in hostilities against members of the Bundestag, also caused a stir in Turkish newspapers. "Anyone who joins this agitation by Erdogan as a foreign citizen in Germany must ask himself whether he is still in good hands with us," the state secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior had said. This must "of course also be taken into account in decisions on residence permits."

Turkish media picked up on this statement widely. The pro-government Sabah asked under the headline "McCarthyism 2.0: "Is State Secretary Krings planning a Gesinnungs-Aufenthaltsrecht?" And the tabloid Takvim headlined, "A Cheeky Threat by Germany against the Turks."