Turkey's top cleric denounces raids on 4 imams in Germany
Turkey's top religious official suggested on Friday that the German authorities' raids on the apartments of four Islamic clerics were political moves fueled by "Islamophobia" ahead of elections in the country.
Mehmet Gormez, the chief of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs, also rejected accusations that the clerics were engaged in spying or any other illegal activity. He acknowledged, however, that some had "exceeded their authorities" and were called back to Turkey, without offering details.
The four clerics' homes were raided on Wednesday over suspicions that they had spied on opponents of the Turkish government. The German federal prosecutors' office said the raids were carried out to collect evidence, and no arrests were made. The unidentified targets are suspected of spying on supporters of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a July 15 coup.
Prosecutors say the four men affiliated with the union of Turkish-Islamic cultural organizations in Germany, or DITIB, are suspected of passing the information on to the Turkish consulate in Cologne.