01: Milli Gorus, a German group of Turkish Muslims, is on the government’s watch list of Islamic radical groups.
Yet this group and its imam or leader Ramazan Ucar is said to be changing under a new generation from a militant identity to one promoting with democracy. The group, with 27,000 members and a network of 500 mosques in Germany, has long advocated an Islamic theocracy for secular Turkey and Europe, as well as promoting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Yet under Ucar’s leadership and the influence of a younger generation of members, observers see the group moderating its views. Anti-Semitic and militant Islamic literature have been removed from the group’s promotions, interfaith relations with Jews and others have been supported, and Ucar and others are preaching that democracy is the only valid way to foster Islam.
Leaders cite the effects of 9/11, the election of a Muslim party in Turkey and other internal leadership changes for accelerating this transformation, although German politicians and Turkish community leaders fear they are presenting a more benign face for “tactical reasons.”
(Source: Washington Post, Dec. 19)