Outrage in Germany over adviser linked to Turkish nationalists

Politicians from across the spectrum have warned against the appointment of Nurhan Soykan

An excursion boat passes the German parliament Bundestag building on the Spree in Berlin, Germany, 12 July 2020 EPA
An excursion boat passes the German parliament Bundestag building on the Spree in Berlin, Germany, 12 July 2020 EPA

Politicians in Germany have expressed their misgivings over the appointment of a Foreign Ministry adviser whose role with the country’s Central Council of Muslims links her to a far-right Turkish group.

Figures from the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany and the left-wing grouping in the Bundestag have raised concerns over the appointment of Nurhan Soykan, a deputy chairwoman of the central council.

Their warnings relate to the council’s failure to dissociate itself from the Turkish nationalist group, the Grey Wolves.

The far-right extremist organisation has been identified by Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as having members within the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe (Atib), the largest member association in Ms Soykan’s Muslim council.

"An organisation that tolerates anti-constitutional forces in its ranks cannot be a partner of our state, and its top officials cannot be in the service of our state," Christoph de Vries, the CDU rapporteur for religious communities, said according to Die Welt.

"This carelessness in dealing with Islamism and nationalism worries me," he added.

Mathias Middelberg, a CDU spokesman, called on the council to clarify its relationship with Atib and also criticised the appointment.

Ulla Jelpke, a spokeswoman for the left-wing parliamentary grouping in the Bundestag, called the appointment “highly outrageous”.

Ms Soykan has also been called out for her position during discussions in 2016 when Germany debated a parliamentary resolution that decried the 1915 massacre against Armenians and other minority groups in the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.

According to reports in the press at the time, she opposed the resolution on the grounds that it eroded the confidence of Germany’s Turkish community in national politics.

Ms Soykan later went on to publicly discredit members of the Bundestag of Turkish origin who supported the resolution. Many of the deputies had to be put under special protection because of threats from Turkish nationalist groups.

After the federal constitution office identified Grey Wolf activists within the membership of Atib, the central council said the association would launch an investigation.

A spokesman for the Central Muslim Council has said Ms Soykan is not a member of any specific group within the umbrella organisation.

Published: July 24, 2020 02:55 PM

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