Iran's ‘long terrorist arm’ in Germany ousted from Islamic group board

The Hamburg Shura Council is an association of Muslim organizations.

 Islamic Centre Hamburg (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Islamic Centre Hamburg
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A controversial Islamic organization has removed Iran’s Hamburg Center from its Shura executive board after German intelligence sources revealed that the Iranian entity in the city-state supports the late Qasem Soleimani, who was a designated terrorist according to US and EU law.

The Hamburg Shura Council is an association of Muslim organizations.

The German daily paper Die Welt reported that the Islamic Center of Hamburg (IZH) is “Iran’s long arm in Europe” and has “links to a terrorist organization,” including being controlled by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

However, the Shura Council’s executive board did not eject the radical revolutionary Islamic Center and its Blue Mosque from the organization. There has been growing pressure on the Social Democrat and Green parties coalition in Hamburg to pull the plug on its agreement with the Shura Council because of the Islamic Center’s membership.

The new head of the Shura executive board, Fatih Yildiz, told the German Press Agency that an evaluation of the state treaty played a subordinate role in the restructuring.

General view outside the Islamic Centre (Blue Mosque) in Hamburg, Germany, January 9, 2020.  (credit: FABIAN BIMMER / REUTERS)General view outside the Islamic Centre (Blue Mosque) in Hamburg, Germany, January 9, 2020. (credit: FABIAN BIMMER / REUTERS)

Hamburg’s intelligence agency has monitored the Islamic Center and its Blue Mosque over the decades and concluded that the mosque is “directly connected” with Khamenei and receives “instructions” from him.

According to German intelligence, the IZH functions “to export the Islamic Revolution” of the Iranian regime.

The Jerusalem Post reported in January 2020 that a group of 600 pro-Iranian regime Islamists attended a memorial service at the center to mourn the death of Soleimani. The mourners from the Islamic Center praised the designated terrorist as a “heroic martyr.”

According to the US government, Soleimani was responsible for the murders of more than 600 US military personnel in the Middle East.

Philipp Wolden, the managing editor of Die Welt Hamburg, reported that Hamburg’s agreement with the Shura Council will soon be reevaluated. He wrote that Social Democratic politician Andy Grote was pleased about the eviction of the Islamic Center from the Shura executive board.

“We have always clearly said that these are extremists,” he said. “That’s why we weren’t sad when we found out that the Islamic Center had left the board of the Shura.”

According to a 2021 report by Wolden, the German federal government said the IZH is Iran’s most “important propaganda center” in Europe.

The Islamic Center sent busloads of pro-Iranian and pro-Hezbollah activists to Berlin to participate in the annual al-Quds rally calling for the destruction of Israel.

Hamburg’s then-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.”There have been repeated calls from opposition parties and experts to dissolve the contract between the Shura Council and Hamburg. Stefen Hensel, Hamburg’s commissioner tasked with fighting antisemitism, urged city authorities in June to close the Islamic Center.

Die Welt reported that the Hamburg intelligence agency accused the center of distributing books with antisemitic content, alleging there is evidence of its connections with Hezbollah, a designated terrorist movement according to German law.

The Islamic Center denied the allegation that its organization is controlled by Iran, which the US State Department has classified as the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.

Carsten Ovens, from the Christian Democratic Union faction in Hamburg’s legislative body, told the Post in 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.

“A participation in al-Quds Day is therefore out of the question and contradicts the contractually agreed upon tolerance toward other cultures,” he said.

“The IZH must distance itself from all actions against the State of Israel and, without ifs and buts, recognize all legal fundamental rights,” he said. “Otherwise, the IZH cannot be a partner of Hamburg.”