Turkish

Turkish language

Turkic language of Turkey, spoken by about 90percnt of its population. Turkish has about 59 million speakers, with many enclaves in the Balkans and Cyprus (dating from Ottoman times) and in western Europe. Turkish was introduced into Anatolia with the invasion of Turkmen tribes in the 13th–14th centuries. Anatolian Turkish, written in the Arabic alphabet, is first attested in the 13th century. Ottoman Turkish was so heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic that it lost some of its Turkic characteristics and was incomprehensible to lower social strata. Efforts to re-Turkicize the language began in the 18th century but did not make serious gains until the 20th century and the founding of the Turkish republic. Much Perso-Arabic vocabulary was removed, and the Latin alphabet was adopted with the addition of diacritics to symbolize sounds peculiar to Turkish.

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The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (German: Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion e.V., Turkish: Diyanet Işleri Türk-Islam Birliği, shortened DİTİB), is one of the largest Islamic organisations in Germany. It was founded in 1984 as a branch of the Presidency of Religious Affairs in Ankara. The headquarters are in Cologne-Ehrenfeld.

The imams and the religious teachers are sent from Turkey. Because the state back then was almost bankrupt, the officials had to be paid with money from the Muslim World League, which provoked protest from secularists. The fixation on Turkey and the Turkish language proved to be a handicap, because other Islamic organisations used German language in public. The usage of German was seen by many to be more dialogue-friendly.

Organisation

When it was initially founded, around 230 associations were members; by 2005 the number was 870. The local associations are registered independently for legal and financial purposes, but share the goals and principles of DİTİB as their foundation. They also acknowledge DİTİB as their umbrella-organisation. It has a number of social and religious institutes.

2004 rally

Under the presidency of Rıdvan Çakır, DİTİB tries to present itself as a more integrated actor in German society. DİTİB was one of the initiator of the mass-event "Gemeinsam für Frieden und gegen Terror" (en: "Together for Peace and against Terror"). Over 20,000 Muslims participated in this demonstration, which was held on November 21 2004 in Cologne. Participants who gave speeches included the Green Party politician Claudia Roth, Bavaria's Interior Minister Günther Beckstein and Fritz Behrens. The goal was to signal the disapproval of the use of violence in the name of Islam. It was one of the largest demonstrations of its kind in the history of Germany.

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