Local residents in the Bavarian town of Kaufbeuren have voted to reject a proposal from the Turkish-German Muslim association to build a new mosque in the area.
The referendum, which took place on Sunday, saw 27 percent of the electorate of the town participate, above the 20 percent threshold for the vote to become legally valid, Die Welt reports.
A total of 59.6 percent of voters rejected the proposal, on which the local government began negotiations last November, that would have seen the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Association (DITIB) given around a 54,000 square foot plot of land to build a new mosque on a 99-year lease.
The proposal for the vote was pushed by a group of local citizens who argued that DITIB was a political tool of Turkish Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and that their preachers were spreading political Islam.
The accusation is not the first against DITIB, which admitted last year that some of their imams had been actively spying on their own worshippers for the Erdoğan government.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 13, 2017
Kaufbeuren Mayor Stefan Bosse commented on the result saying: “I believe the discussion here has been massively overshadowed by larger issues such as the relationship with Turkey and the migration problem.”
In neighbouring Austria, the conservative-populist coalition government has also slammed Turkish Islamic associations and announced in June that seven mosques, some with links to Turkey, would be shut down.
Between 40 to 60 imams linked to the Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria (ATIB) were also set for deportation due to violations of the country’s funding laws.
Local Kaufbeuren DITIB chairman Osman Öztürk claimed he was “shocked” by the referendum result but said that he had received support from local churches. The possibility of using private land, rather than public, was still an option for the association.