President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was heavily criticized for meeting with members of Shiite group in Germany that has direct links to Iran and espouses anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, met Monday with representatives of the Islamic Community of the Shiite Communities of Germany (IGS), a group that the government itself recognizes has close connections to the Islamist leadership in Tehran.
The reason for the meeting was “interreligious dialogue,” according to the presidential office’s spokeswoman, and was one of a series of discussions Steinmeier has been holding with the representatives of various religious communities in the country, including Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians and Jews.
As reported in the Welt newspaper, the spokeswoman noted that the president brought up the issue of anti-Semitism, as well as the necessity of rejecting religious fanaticism, to which the IGS representatives replied that they had spoken out against anti-Semitism and had various projects against radicalization.
However, Stop the Bomb spokeswoman Ulrike Becker rejected the president’s move, as she said it can be seen as legitimizing and supporting those who are against Israel, secular Muslims and homosexuals.
“Steinmeier’s open door policy for the IGS is part of a fatal strategy which seeks to cooperate with Islamist organizations that are often controlled by radical Arab organizations or by the Turkish or Iranian state,” she stated. “This policy must be stopped, as well as the funding of these organizations from federal funds as it threatens secular and moderate Muslims, endangers the democratic integration of refugees in Germany and helps to spread anti-Semitism, rather than curbing it.”
Citing a government response to a question put to it by a member of the Green Party, the Bild newspaper reported in February that IGS is to get 378,000 euros by 2019 in government money, including funds for “extremism prevention,” despite the fact that IGS counts among its members extremist associations such as the Islamic Center Hamburg, which Berlin has noted in an official report as being the “most important representative body of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Germany and one of its most important propaganda centers in Europe.”
The speaker of the opposition Green Party of Iran, Kazem Moussavi, who has been living in exile in Germany for years, described IGS chairman Mahmood Khalilzadeh as a representative of an “anti-Semitic regime” who should not have been invited to meet the president. “This is an insult to the victims of the German Holocaust, which is denied by the regime, and poses a threat to the democratic exiles in Germany,” said Moussavi to the Welt.