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Germany blasts Taliban official’s appearance at Cologne mosque

November 21, 2023
Abdul Bari Omar. — Tolo News
Abdul Bari Omar. — Tolo News

BERLIN: Germany on Monday condemned an appearance by a Taliban official at a mosque in Cologne, with the interior minister demanding explanations from the Turkish organisation running the Islamic site.

Abdul Bari Omar, who is an official with the Taliban-run health authority in Afghanistan, attended the mosque to speak at a conference organised by an Afghan association in the city. “The appearance of a representative of the Taliban in Cologne is completely unacceptable and must be strongly condemned.

“No-one should offer Islamists a platform in Germany,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. She urged Ditib, the Turkish-Islamic association managing the mosque in the city´s Chorweiler district to explain “how it could have been possible that the room was used” in this manner. Ditib´s management said it had no prior knowledge of the Taliban official´s planned appearance.

“Contrary to the original contract, it was transformed into a political event and a speaker who was not known to us had been invited,” it said.

Ditib rejected “any proximity -- even spiritual -- to the Taliban”. The foreign ministry said the Taliban official had not been issued with a visa to enter Germany.

He had apparently been able to travel to the country using a Schengen visa issued by a “neighbouring country”, it added. Local media said Omar had arrived from the Netherlands, where he had participated in a World Health Organisation conference in early November.