Germany condemns Taliban official's attendance at Cologne mosque event

Mosque managers say they had no prior knowledge the official would speak at conference organised by city’s Afghan association

Abdul Bari Omar is believed to have entered Germany via the Netherlands. EPA
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Germany has condemned a Taliban official’s appearance at an event being held at a mosque in the city of Cologne.

Abdul Bari Omar, who works in the Taliban-run health authority in Afghanistan, visited the mosque where he spoke at a conference organised by the city’s Afghan association.

“The appearance of a representative of the Taliban in Cologne is completely unacceptable and must be strongly condemned. No one should offer radical Islamists a platform in Germany,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs – known as Ditib – which manages the mosque is one of the largest Islamic organisations in Germany.

Ms Faeser urged Ditib leaders to explain “how it could have been possible that the room was used” in this manner.

Ditib's management said it had no prior knowledge the Taliban official would appear at the event.

“Contrary to the original contract, it was transformed into a political event and a speaker who was not known to us had been invited,” it said.

Ditib rejected “any proximity, even spiritual, to the Taliban”.

The German Foreign Ministry said the Taliban official had not been issued a visa to enter Germany.

He apparently was able to travel to the country using a Schengen visa issued by a “neighbouring country”, it added.

Mr Omar travelled from the Netherlands, where he had participated in a World Health Organisation conference in early November, German media reported.

Since the Taliban swept back to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, billions of dollars in assistance and assets have been frozen by the West in what the UN has described as an “unprecedented fiscal shock” to the country's aid-dependent economy.

Updated: November 20, 2023, 3:42 PM