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German government considers introducing mosque taxes, like church taxes

Saturday, December 29, 2018

On Wednesday, lawmakers of German ruling coalition parties — Christian Democratic Union of Germany ((de))German language: ‍Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU), Social Democratic Party of Germany ((de))German language: ‍Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), and Christian Social Union in Bavaria ((de))German language: ‍Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (CSU) — announced they were considering imposing new mandatory taxation Muslims would have to pay, which the government would distribute as funding to mosques. The lawmakers said this was a possible solution to stop funding and finance of the mosques in Germany from foreign countries and institutes.

The proposal would introduce taxes for Muslims similar to the mandatory taxes the state collects from practicing Protestants and Catholics in order to fund the churches.

Official estimates indicate Germany has around 4.4 to 4.7 million resident Muslims. Mosques currently receive funding from foreign sources. Press reports indicate Gulf countries provide funding to mosques and imams. Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs ((tr))Turkish language: ‍Diyanet İşleri Türk-İslam Birliği (DİTİB) is reportedly one of the biggest foreign institutes currently funding mosques in Germany. DİTİB is under direction by the Turkish government and reportedly influences over 900 German Muslim communities.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle, Seyran Ates, founder of a progressive mosque in German capital Berlin, said German Islam "has a huge influence from outside, from foreign countries". Ates went on to say, "They [German Muslims] have to take care about their own religion here in Germany. So Muslims in Germany should do something for Islam in Germany".

Thorsten Frei of CDU told German daily Die Welt this is an "important step" enabling "Islam in Germany to emancipate itself from foreign states". CSU's Michael Frieser said, "Mosques must be open and transparent".

Describing the idea of the new tax as "worthy of discussion", Burkhard Lischka of SPD noted: "We need to work with the states on this issue, since the church tax is then responsibility of the states".

Some other European governments, similarly to Germany, mandate Christians pay church taxes in order to fund the churches; including Austria, Italy, and Sweden.

Sources