Germany Considering 'Mosque Tax'

Right now, most Muslim religious institutions in Germany reportedly rely on foreign assistance.

The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs is believed to be one of the largest organizations contributing to German mosques, as it exerts influence over more than 800 Muslim communities across the country.

Lawmakers from Germany's grand coalition government are mulling introducing a "mosque tax" for the country's Muslims, according to Deutsche Welle.

The news network quoted Thorsten Frei, a member of the governing Christian Democratic Union party, as saying that a mosque tax is "an important step" aimed at helping "Islam in Germany free itself from the influence of foreign states and get a stronger domestic orientation.”

Burkhard Lischka, a lawmaker from Germany's other governing party, the Social Democrats, described the initiative as something which is "worthy of discussion,” arguing that a mosque tax could help Islam in Germany become more independent.

Seyran Ates, founder of a progressive Berlin mosque, was cited by Die Welt as saying that "in the future everything that the [Muslim] community needs to could be paid for by its members themselves.”

The lawmakers' proposal stipulates the introduction of a special tax to be paid by all practicing Muslims in Germany, which would then be redistributed by the government among officially registered Islamic religious institutions.

A similar tax is already in place in Germany and some other European countries for Catholic and Protestant Christians.

Mosques in Germany currently rely on donations amid concerns about their possible financing by foreign organizations and governments. All this comes in light of the growing clout of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which is directly controlled by Ankara and is considered to be one of the largest organizations contributing to Muslim religious institutions in the country.

According to official estimates, between 4.4 million and 4.7 million Muslims currently live in Germany.

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(PHOTO: Bjarke Liboriussen / Flickr)

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