Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV), based in Gottingen, issued on Tuesday a written press statement regarding Turkey’s ‘islamisation’ practices in Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin.
The organisation stated that Presidency for Religious Affairs in Turkey, known as ‘Diyanet’, is increasingly building mosques in Yazidi villages in the northern Syrian region of Afrin.
In this way, the organisation noted, “the Turkish state is attempting to promote the islamisation of the once multi-religious region and to spread a particular radical interpretation of Sunni Islam.”
“Yezidi sources tell us about the construction of a mosque in the once Yezidi village of Shadere, south of the city of Afrin. There are now only 45 people of Yezidi faith still living there – before the Turkish occupation there were 450,” said Dr. Kamal Sido, the Middle East expert of the GfbV.
“After most were displaced, Turkey settled radical Muslims there. They regularly carry out raids against the local Kurdish population. What is preached in the mosques and new Koran schools in Afrin is determined by the Turkish Diyanet. Often even little girls have to cover their heads with a headscarf. During the last Gaza war, there was also massive incitement against Israel and Jews at the mosques,” Sido added.
The Society for Threatened Peoples also drew attention to the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in Germany and said that this association which acts as part of Diyanet is “also trying to carry its religious views into local schools” in Germany as well.
“Against this background, it is particularly incomprehensible that this Turkish authority is now poised to gain official influence on Islamic religious education in Germany,” Sido said.
He added that DITIB is by no means a liberal association, but propagates a radical version Islam. During the attack on Afrin, prayers were said in almost all DITIB mosques in Germany for the victory of the occupying Turkish army.
In the statement the Society for Threatened Peoples also stated that the population of Afrin was once at least 96 percent Kurdish, but after the Turkish occupation, most have been displaced, and the proportion of the Kurdish population has dropped to about 25 percent.
“Thus, Turkey is on the verge of achieving one of its most important goals: To make Afrin free of Kurds!” Sido said.
“The Kurds in Afrin are predominantly moderate Sunni Muslims. At one time, 20,000 to 30,000 Yazidi believers also lived in Afrin. Today, there are only a few thousand.”