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Controversial anti-Erdogan group: the Gülenists spread to Germany?

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<p class=The institutions of the Gülen movement in Germany include several private schools.

picture alliance / dpa

Hundreds of members of the Gülen movement flee from Turkey, where they are persecuted for their alleged complicity in the failed coup. Now Germany could become a new center of the organization. But even here in Germany it is controversial.

For years, the Gülen Islamic movement in Germany has been active with schools, clubs and mentoring centers. Since the failed military coup in Turkey in July 2016, there is more and more evidence that the controversial organization has chosen the Federal Republic as a new center. Hundreds of members fled to Germany for their persecution by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from where they now support their besieged brothers and sisters around the world.

Because the institutions of the movement are not directly involved in the Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in the United States, can only be concluded indirectly on their affiliation. According to media reports, there are about two dozen private schools recognized by the state in Germany, as well as about 150 tutoring centers and about 300 clubs. In almost all major German cities, they should also host student homes, the so-called light houses.

Critics accuse the movement of being, despite its marked secularism, an authoritarian sect that represents a conservative Islam. For years there have been critical questions about their activities in Germany and appeals to the German authorities to examine the structures, funding and objectives of the devoted brotherhood. For the most part, however, the assessment of the movement in the political public remains positive.

Zwiegespaltene opinion

Many Germans continue to see them as a moderate movement for dialogue and education, which is being haunted incorrectly. Bruno Kahl, the president of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), described it as a "civil association for continuing religious and secular formation" in March 2017. Not only does Ankara blame it for the coup attempt. Turkish opposition and many experts see them critically.

Left-wing MP Ulla Jelpke calls for an end to the "preferential treatment" of the Gülen movement and calls for a more critical approach to the organization. "The preferential treatment of the Gülen movement by the federal government and the German security authorities must be closed," said Jelpke. If there are any signs of crimes from Gülen's supporters, Germany should take the case.

The Turkish ruling AKP party has long been allied with the Gülen movement, and during visits to Germany, Erdogan has repeatedly supported the opening of "Turkish schools". Since Erdogan and Gülen challenged the distribution of power in 2013, the Gülen movement is also under pressure in Germany. Especially after the coup attempt, many parents got lost and brought their children from schools.

The federal government remains ambivalent

At the same time, since 2016, hundreds of followers of Gülen have fled persecution in Turkey to Germany. According to the Turkish government, the prosecutors Zekeriya Oz and Celal Kara are also in Germany, as well as the theologian Adil Öksüz, who is said to have played a leading role in the attempted coup. Ankara insists on their extradition, but the German authorities say they have no knowledge of their stay.

From Germany, the movement also supports its besieged members around the world. Thus, in March 2017, a & nbsp; education association in Berlin detected several schools of the movement in Ethiopia, which tried to bring under their control the Turkish Maarif Foundation. According to media reports, a number of teachers from Gülen's schools outside of Turkey, who have been threatened with expulsion at home, have received asylum in Germany.

The attitude of the federal government remains ambivalent. In an internal report, the embassy in Ankara warned in February 2018, according to "Spiegel", that the movement was working on "targeted infiltration of state structures" and that its "conspiratorial part" was characterized by "strict hierarchies" ". At the end of November, however, the magazine reported that the government is providing ten million euros for the multi-religious House of One project in Berlin. Involved: the Gülen movement.

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