The head of Göttingen’s branch of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği, DİTİB) has resigned after inflammatory material he had posted online inciting racial and religious hatred was exposed.
Mustafa Keskin was outed by a socialist youth group, Die Falken (The Falcons), which documented the racist posts he had made about Jews, Kurds and Armenians. The German Turkish religious leader resigned earlier this month, but has vowed to clear his name.
Die Falken, a German socialist organisation, detailed Keskin’s offensive posts, which date back to 2013 and also include his current WhatsApp profile picture depicting an anti-Semitic trope that ‘Jews control the world’.
Keskin’s profile picture is made up of three images. The top two are of the former and current US presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, with the former labelled as the “old puppet” and Biden the “new puppet”.
Immediately below them is a picture of Jacob Rothschild, a British peer and investment banker, who is also the honorary president of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Rothschild’s image has been captioned “puppet master”.
In another offensive post, made in May 2015, an image of Pope Francis sits above one of Mehmet Ali Ağca, a far-right extremist who attempted to assassinate former Pope John Paul II in 1981.
Pope Francis’s photo is tagged ‘Retired FETO baptism”, creating a spurious connection between the Head of the Catholic Church and Turkish terror group FETO, led by cleric Fethullah Gülen. The caption for the photo reads: “The Armenian genocide is real”.
The picture of Mehmet Ali Ağca underneath is captioned “When you shoot them in the head, they go strange”.
In June 2014 Keskin, whose Facebook profile name is ‘Osmanlı [Ottoman] Mustafa Keskin’, also posted a picture of a Beretta handgun with a single bullet alongside it.
Die Falken claims the German Turkish community leader was also found to be routinely making anti-Semitic posts on Facebook. The group states Keskin’s posts used derogatory language in Turkish, calling Armenians and Israeli soldiers “dirty d*gs”.
Keskin was a long-time chairman of DİTİB in Göttingen, in central Germany, which has a large Turkish population. He represented DİTİB at a variety of multi-faith events in Göttingen.
He resigned on 4 March after his posts were made public by Die Falken. While Keskin did not deny making the posts, he did reject claims that he is anti-Semitic and has said he will sue the left-wing group.
Speaking on behalf of DİTİB, which is headquartered in Köln, Zekeriya Altuğ also criticised Keskin’s racist posts: “None of the postings and opinions of the chairman can be tolerated by a DITIB functionary.”
Altuğ said the religious body was launching an investigation into the matter. He also claimed the allegations against Keskin were part of a bid to “smear DİTİB’s Youth Organisation”.
The matter came to a head when DİTİB’s youth wing applied to join the Lower Saxony Youth Federation, a regional body. Die Falken said when it became aware of this application, it decided to investigate DİTİB.
The left-wing group documented its findings on a post on its website titled “Against All Antisemitism”.
Die Falken wrote that it had been “horrified to discover that Mustafa Keskin, chairman of the Turkish Islamic Community of Göttingen, spreads antisemitic hate messages and conspiracy myths on WhatsApp and Facebook, incites against Kurds and Armenians, and refers positively to Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“The dissemination of antisemitic hate messages and conspiracy theories by a community leader in Göttingen cannot and must not simply be accepted,” the socialist group stressed, while adding that other DİTİB officials had made similar antisemitic posts.
Göttingen district associations below, quotes Mustafa Keskin on its Facebook page in Jan. 2015: “I donate blood because…blood knows no nationality and no borders, blood is the source of life for everyone”
Die Falken argues that for years none of the xenophobic and ultra-Turkish nationalist posts made by Keskin and others affiliated with DİTİB were challenged by anyone within the German Turkish religious body, prompting them to believe the racist views were tolerated by the organisation.
These DİTİB officials “have not experienced any opposition from within their own association,” Die Falken said, continuing, “Therefore, our assessment is that antisemitism and other right-wing positions are acceptable to DİTİB.”
In light of the discoveries, Die Falken have called on Göttingen officials to stop working with Keskin and DİTİB.
The socialist group asked, “How can Göttingen establish a dialogue with such a person? Don’t they ever research?”
Die Falken further asserted that, “We are dealing with a milieu in which right-wing and antisemitic positions are ‘quite normal’ [for DİTİB]. We will therefore urge our state association to speak out against the admission of the DITIB youth, and also to inform other associations about this matter.”
Two thirds of Germany’s 4.5 million Muslims are of Turkish origin. DİTİB is Germany’s largest Islamic umbrella body, overseeing about 900 mosques in Germany with over 1,000 imams, who are appointed by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).
In 2019, Germany’s Ministry of Interior launched a new education initiative to help train imams locally in an effort to reduce foreign influence and cultural values that are deemed incompatible with multi-cultural German society.