February 17, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Female Imam: ‘Does German FM have an antisemitism problem?’

The Foreign Ministry on Heiko Maas’s watch has faced allegations of stoking Jew-hatred.
February 17, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Female Imam: ‘Does German FM have an antisemitism problem?’

The Foreign Ministry on Heiko Maas’s watch has faced allegations of stoking Jew-hatred.

Seyran Ates, a co-founder of the liberal Ibn Ruschd-Goethe Mosque in Berlin, has criticized German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for being photographed with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Zarif, at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.

Ates, a female Imam who is a champion of women rights and a campaigner against antisemitism in Germany, asked in a tweet above a German Foreign Ministry-posted photograph of Maas and Zarif: “Serious question: Does the SPD [Social Democratic Party] have an antisemitism problem?”

Maas, a member of the Social Democratic Party, has faced intense criticism for his alleged appeasement toward Iran’s clerical regime.

Ates was born in Istanbul in 1963 and has lived in Germany since 1969.

She reacted to a Saturday tweet from the German Foreign Ministry that said: “Preserving the JCPOA remains our objective, FM Heiko Maas underlined in conversation with his Iranian counterpart JZariff. But to achieve this we need constructive behavior from Iran. By de-escalation in the region Iran can also contribute to building trust.”

The Foreign Ministry, on Maas’s watch, has faced allegations of stoking Jew-hatred. Last year, Germany’s largest paper, Bild, accused the Deputy Foreign Minister Niels Annen, also from the SPD, of “making antisemitism socially respectable” in Germany. Annen participated in a celebration of Iran’s revolution last year at the Iranian Embassy in Berlin.

The United States classified Iran’s regime as the worst state sponsor of terrorism and sanctioned Zarif for his actions on the regime’s behalf. The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO recently told a congressional hearing the Iranian regime is the top state sponsor of Holocaust denial and antisemitism.

The Jerusalem Post learned in early February from German Foreign Ministry sources that “the usual practice in diplomatic relations also includes the celebration of national holidays in the other country. As the Federal Republic of Germany continues to maintain diplomatic relations with Iran, this also applies to the coming national holiday.”

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell urged the German Foreign Ministry not to honor Iran’s regime again this February.

“Germany has a moral responsibility to say to Iran very firmly and clearly that it is unacceptable to deny basic human rights to your people or kill protesters in the streets or push gay people off buildings,” he said. “Celebrating the regime’s ongoing existence sends the opposite message.”

Writing last week in the online Jewish magazine Tablet, in an article titled “Germany Can’t Stop Loving Iran,” German political scientist Matthias Küntzel said: “On January 15, 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas explained how he sees this difference in the Bundestag: ‘We rely on reasonable diplomacy instead of maximum pressure like the United States does.’ Maas forgot to add that Germany has no other choice. Germany is an economic superpower but a military dwarf. As soon as there is a threat of military action, Germany is no longer relevant.”

Küntzel added: “Maas, however, presents this shortcoming as a moral triumph: The Iran nuclear deal is held up as the best example of the correctness of the German insistence that changes can only be achieved through dialogue. Little thought, however, is given to what exactly 40 years of dialogue with Tehran’ have actually achieved.”

Maas said he went into politics “because of Auschwitz.” Last year, the associate dean of the human-rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told the Post: “With all due respect, it is time for the German foreign minister to drop his assertion that it was the lessons of Auschwitz that propelled him into public life. He clearly has not applied any of the lessons to the current situation. Instead of weakening the tyrannical, genocidal regime in Tehran, he is doing everything to strengthen Iran.”

Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Sanctions Israel Sanctions and Illicit Finance