Islam in Europe and how to deal with extremism?

İlnur ÇevikBy: İLNUR ÇEVIK*

The Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) has been providing religious staff for Turks in Europe for four decades, both providing proper religious services for our countrymen across the continent and preventing extremist religious currents from polluting the minds of believers and thus protecting European countries against religious radicals.

Thanks to the DİB, extremist Islamic clerics have not been able to infiltrate Muslim communities in Europe, especially in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium as well as in other places. DİB staff have performed excellent services in these countries for nearly half a century and it is clear that extremist groups have not been able to overcome the barriers set up by Turkish imams.

Germany is home to nearly 4 million Turks, but thanks to the DİB, Daesh militants have failed to recruit our citizens into their ranks to fight in Syria and Iraq. However, in places where the DİB has not been able to reach out to the Muslim communities like the North Africans in France, Daesh and al-Qaeda have found a fertile breeding ground for recruitment of extremists.

The DİB has become the arch enemy of extremist religious groups, led by Daesh. But ironically now the DİB is the target of anti-Turkish propaganda that is forcing the governments in Belgium and the Netherlands to curb the activities of the organization in their respective countries. It seems these governments are not aware that they are actually playing into the hands of Muslim radicals.

If the DİB goes then so does the chance to teach Turks in Europe and other communities accurate Islam that has not been distorted by fanatical religious groups. This means instead of being taught that Islam means peace, security, justice, wisdom, mercy and compassion, Muslim communities will be fed something that has nothing to do with Islam by extremists who simply promote discord, violence and deceit. The DİB on the contrary helps Muslims live in harmony in Europe in their host countries with a culture of encouraging coexistence.

The DİB is being made the victim of a campaign launched by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which tried to stage a bloody coup on July 15 and failed. The strong Gülen lobby, well entrenched in European countries, sees the DİB as a major threat to itself and ironically like Daesh they want to get rid of the DİB people across Europe.

Thus they have cooked up a story that DİB personnel in Europe are spying on behalf of the Turkish state. This appeared in a banner headline in the left-wing daily Cumhuriyet. The story was apparently sponsored by a Belgian company that works for FETÖ. Once that story appeared it was picked up by European media and thus a negative campaign against the DİB was successfully launched.

This negative perception has been exploited by some political parties in Europe that are actually promoting right wing extremism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. Hence the actions against the DİB.

The DİB has revealed the ugly faces of both Daesh and FETÖ. It showed that Daesh has nothing to do with the true values of Islam while it also displayed that FETÖ does not represent moderate Islam and actually has violated all the rules of the Muslim faith through deceit, misuse of donation funds and by rejecting that Mohammed is the Prophet of Allah.

European states have to realize that the DİB is not a threat but an asset for them. It is the safety valve for Europeans against extremist religious currents.

*İLNUR ÇEVIK is a Turkish columnist. He writes for Daily Sabah Turkish newspaper.

(Published in Daily Sabah on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016)