Turkish imams’ EU peace move

More than 1,000 moderate clerics have been dispatched to European countries by Turkey, the only Muslim candidate member of the EU, in a drive to promote modern and peaceful interpretations of Islam.

Some 700 imams have already been sent to Germany, and there are plans to send many more across Europe. None have so far been sent to Britain.

“Our mission is to explain Islam as a source of peace and friendship and certainly not as a tool for violence,” said Ali Bardakoglu, who heads Turkey’s directorate of religious affairs, or diyanet.

Article continues below Ad:

          

“There are 70,000 imams in Turkey. One of our biggest priorities now is to educate imams, teach them foreign languages, to equip them to go abroad.” Mr Bardakoglu said the campaign aimed to prevent extremism and aid integration of the estimated 4 million ethnic Turks in the EU.

The move follows last month’s deportation of a Berlin-based Turkish imam who allegedly exhorted his followers to look kindly on suicide bombers and incited hatred against Americans and Jews.

France – whose Muslim community of 5 million is the EU’s largest – offered inducements to imams to undergo university education in an effort to build a more inclusive, “western” form of Islam.

Professor Bardakoglu acknowledged that firebrand clerics, with little formal religious education, posed a problem for Muslim communities. Some, he said, fostered intolerant fundamentalism.

With EU membership talks due to start later this year, Ankara’s government is keen that diaspora Turks distance themselves from radical Islam.

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Guardian, UK
Jan. 12, 2005
Helena Smith in Ankara
www.guardian.co.uk
, , ,

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday January 12, 2005.
Last updated if a date shows here:

   

More About This Subject

AFFILIATE LINKS

Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.

Travel Religiously

Book skip-the-line tickets to the worlds major religious sites — or to any other place in the world.