Did Germany help finance the missiles currently being fired at Israel? The Federal Court of Auditors has investigated whether funds from the Foreign Office (FO) have indirectly been channelled to the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas, but does not want to disclose this information. The Institut für Weltanschauungsrecht (ifw), together with the lawyer Seyran Ateş, is now taking legal action against this.
Did Foreign Office funds flow to the radical Islamic Hamas via the Muslim "charity" Islamic Relief? The German Bundestag addressed this issue already in April 2019 (printed matter 19/9415). In response to the "Minor Interpellation" of the FDP parliamentary group, the Federal Government stated that "both Islamic Relief Worldwide and Islamic Relief Germany had significant personal connections to the Muslim Brotherhood or organizations close to it". The Federal Government was also aware that Islamic Relief had been banned in Israel since 2014 as "part of Hamas' financial system". The Federal Court of Auditors is currently investigating whether funds from the Federal Foreign Office have flowed to Hamas via the organization. For reasons of "public interest", the Federal Government could not provide more detailed information.
One year later, the Federal Court of Auditors' investigation was completed and the Foreign Office stopped all funding to Islamic Relief, which had previously amounted to millions. However, the results of the investigation were kept confidential. The Berlin lawyer and co-founder of the liberal Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque Seyran Ateş, who has been investigating the connections between the legalistic, i.e. ostensibly law-abiding, and the militant-extremist wing of Islamism, then filed a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act: "The public ought to know what goals these supposedly honourable Muslim charities, whose projects are promoted by well-known politicians such as Federal President Steinmeier, are advocating," said Ateş. "If funds have indeed flowed to Hamas via Islamic Relief, it is not enough to stop state funding. Because organizations that collaborate with terrorists and spread anti-Semitic delusions must be banned!"
Does the federal government consider its citizens to be politically immature?
As was to be expected, the Federal Court of Auditors rejected the Freedom of Information Act request and also rejected the lawyer's subsequent objection. Seyran Ateş has now filed a complaint against this with the support of the Institut für Weltanschauungsrecht (ifw - Institute for Secular Law). According to the Institute, the Federal Court of Auditors' rejection decision is contestable in several ways. For example, the decision states that "passing on the results of the examination relevant here" could lead to a "misleading public presentation", which could "disproportionately burden the international relations of the Federal Republic of Germany". This does not convince Ateş, who is also a member of the ifw advisory board: "The danger of a 'misleading public presentation' is not a legally recognized reason for excluding access to information. Rather, this argument seems arbitrary and reveals a highly problematic understanding of democracy on the part of the Federal Court of Auditors, since citizens are ultimately dismissed as politically immature."
The lawsuit is financed with funds provided by the Giordano Bruno Foundation (gbs), from which the Institut für Weltanschauungsrecht also originated. "It is important to educate the public about the links between legalistic and militant Islamism, because both currents ultimately pursue the same anti-constitutional goals and are also partly intertwined in personnel matters," says foundation spokesperson Michael Schmidt-Salomon, adding: "All of this is of course not about a 'general suspicion against Muslims', but quite the opposite, about supporting liberal believers like Seyran Ateş or Mouhanad Khorchide in their fight against fundamentalist currents of Political Islam."
Establishment of a "Political Islamism" documentation centre
The strategies used by Islamic Relief to gain a foothold in the political establishment in this country were analyzed by Carsten Frerk, head of the Forschungsgruppe Weltanschauungen in Deutschland (fowid - Research Group Worldviews in Germany), at the beginning of 2021. "We expect such findings to lead to consequences," explains gbs spokesperson Schmidt-Salomon. "Thus, politicians such as Federal President Frank-Walter-Steinmeier, Malu Dreyer or Hannelore Kraft, who have appeared as 'prominent supporters' of Islamic Relief in recent years, should distance themselves in clear words from this organization, which is banned in Israel for good reasons."
To ensure that German politicians do not continue to "fall into the clutches of totalitarian Islamists out of misunderstood multiculturalism," the gbs calls for the establishment of a "Political Islamism" documentation centre in Germany: "We were very pleased that the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag has taken up the idea of establishing a documentation centre on 'Political Islamism in Germany and Europe' in a recent position paper, which Islam experts have been urging for a long time," says Schmidt-Salomon. "We hope that this project will also be supported by liberal and left-wing forces. It was painful to see how the left in particular fell for the strategic terminological confusions of radical Islamists. In the meantime, some of them apparently consider it an 'anti-fascist duty' to follow the identitarian concepts of Islamic fascists. This identitarian thinking is not the solution but rather the root of the conflicts - both in Germany and in the Middle East. In order to understand these connections, a broad educational campaign is needed instead of a cover-up of the misguided developments that have been going on for years. That is why the details of the state funding of Islamic Relief should be made public."
Urgent need for information
Austria has established a documentation centre on Political Islam. Islamic scholar Mouhanad Khorchide and ethnologist Susanne Schröter, who are on the scientific advisory board of the Austrian organization, equally welcome the establishment of a documentation centre in Germany as well as the disclosure of the audit results of the Federal Court of Auditors: "In some cases, the German state has gotten involved with extremely dubious partners in its integration policy. There is an urgent need for information here!", says Mouhanad Khorchide, professor of Islamic religious education at the University of Münster. Susanne Schröter, head of the Frankfurt Research Centre on Global Islam (FFGI) and director of the Cornelia Goethe Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Frankfurt, adds: "You cannot publicly condemn anti-Semitism and at the same time promote organizations that fuel anti-Semitism! Most politicians presumably did not know what they were doing. It is all the more important now to make the structures of legalistic Islamism visible!"
Kein Steuergeld für Antisemiten! (Commentary by Remko Leemhuis, Die ZEIT 21/2021 vom 20.5.2021)
Das Problem des islamischen Antisemitismus wird verharmlost und relativiert (Commentary by Susanne Schröter, NZZ vom 18.5.2021)