German politicians want Iran-regime center ousted over antisemitism

Hamburg’s social democratic government negotiated a 2012 agreement with Muslim organizations that pledged common values and peaceful activities and tolerance.

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June 12, 2018 01:08
4 minute read.
Demonstrators attend an 'al-Quds Day' protest rally in Berlin, Germany, July 11, 2015

Demonstrators attend an 'al-Quds Day' protest rally in Berlin, Germany, July 11, 2015. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)

Politicians in the northern German city of Hamburg rekindled on Monday a call from last year to cancel the city’s contract with an Iranian-regime controlled institution because it participated in the annual al-Quds Day rally in Berlin, which calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

"The right of Israel's existence belongs to the national interest of Germany. Whoever does not recognize this and carries out anti-Israel agitation can, in the view of German historical responsibility, not be a contractual partner of our state," said André Trepoll, the head of the Christian Democratic Union party faction in Hamburg, in an interview with the Hamburger Abendblatt paper on Monday.  Trepoll added that the Iranian regime-controlled Islamic Center of Hamburg "proved again with its continued participation in the al-Quds march that a state agreement cannot be made with the center."

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He said the "Shura" must eject the Islamic Center from its organization. Shura is an Arabic word usually defined as "consultation" and is a way for creating organization among Islamic organizations and mosques. The Shura has previously called on the Islamic Center to not participate in the al-Quds Day march. 

Hamburg’s social democratic government negotiated a 2012 agreement with Muslim organizations that pledged common values and peaceful activities and tolerance. The contract says the Islamic Center of Hamburg agreed to “international understanding and tolerance toward other cultures, religions and world views.”

Some of the additional provisions contained in the city’s contract with Muslim NGOs include religious education and recognition of Islamic holidays. The agreement calls on Islamic groups not to discriminate against women and homosexuals. According to the Abendblatt, 150 people from the Hamburg metropolitan region participated in the Saturday al-Quds Day rally in Berlin. The rally attracted a heavy turnout of 1,600 this year. 

In response to the anti-Israel activities of the Islamic Center, Carsten Ovens, from the Christian Democratic Union faction in Hamburg’s legislative body, told The Jerusalem Post in September, 2017 that the “CDU is calling for the suspension of the agreements” because “Israel’s right to exist and the freedom of the Jewish people are not subject to negotiation."

In a detailed report on the Islamic Center and the Green Party's inaction against the alleged genocidal antisemitism of the Islamic Center, Abendblatt journalist Jens Meyer-Wellmann wrote that Hamburg's intelligence agency said the Islamic Center participated, like in 2017, in the demonstration al-Quds that is hostile to Israel.



Hamburg’s most recent intelligence report from 2017, which monitors threats to Germany’s democracy, includes a reference to the Islamic Center of Hamburg. Hamburg's intelligence agency classifies the al-Quds Day rally as an "expression of the rejection of Israel's existence," wrote the Abendblatt.

Iran’s Blue Mosque, the Islamic Academy and the Islamic Center of Hamburg are widely considered the long-arm institutions in Germany of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. BILD journalist Antje Schippmann tweeted on Saturday, “Also again at today’s antisemitic al-Quds march in Berlin: Ayatollah Hamidreza Torabi.” Her tweet showed a photograph of Torabi at the Saturday al-Quds rally.

Torabi, who heads the Islamic Academy of Germany – part of the Iranian regime-owned Islamic Center of Hamburg – is a key organizer of the rally. 

The alleged indifference to Iranian-animated antisemitism by German politicians in Hamburg sparked criticism on social media across Germany. Karin Prien, a CDU minister for education in the bordering state of Schleswig-Holstein, called for "consequences" against the Islamic Center on her Twitter feed.

Head of the Free Democratic Party Anna von Treuenfels-Frowein in the Hamburg state government told Abendblatt: "With antisemitic enemies of democracy, there can be no state contracts. The Islamic Center of Hamburg must be excluded from the state contract or the contracts will be terminated." Green Party interior minister Antje Möller defended the contract with the Islamic Center in the Abendblatt article because there were "no calls" to attend the al-Quds Day rally and no chartered buses. She said the results of the Hamburg intelligence agency report would be reviewed. The Social Democrats and the Greens govern the Hamburg city-state.

The Hamburg Green Party faced criticism from Green Party politician Volker Beck, an expert in contemporary antisemitism, who wrote on Twitter that "without one taking action, Hamburg's state policies from the IZH [Islamic Center of Hamburg] will no longer be taken seriously." According to Abendblatt, Beck criticized the Green Party leadership in Hamburg for previously refusing to take action against the Islamic Center.

The Islamic Center told the Abendblatt that it did not engage in calls to attend the al-Quds Day rally or charter buses. The center claimed it is not responsible for the demonstration. The Islamist center said "what has changed" is "the increase of violence and crimes against the repressed people of Palestine."


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