Germany has condemned the appearance of a Taliban official at an event that was held at a mosque in the city of Cologne.
The official, Abdul Bari Omar, works in the Taliban-run health authority in Afghanistan. He visited the mosque and spoke at a conference that was organized by the city's Afghan association.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser denounced the appearance, calling it "completely unacceptable" and saying that it "must be strongly condemned".
She added that "no one should offer radical Islamists a platform in Germany".
The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Ditib), which manages the mosque, is one of the largest Islamic organizations in Germany.
Faeser has urged Ditib leaders to explain how it was possible for the official to appear at the event.
Ditib's management said that it had no prior knowledge that the Taliban official would appear at the event. It added that the event had been transformed into a political event, and that a speaker who was not known to them had been invited.
Taliban official delivers speech at the Cologne Central Mosque in Germany.— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) November 20, 2023
Should the Taliban be given a platform to spread their ideology in Europe?
Ditib rejected "any proximity, even spiritual, to the Taliban".
The German Foreign Ministry said that the Taliban official had not been issued a visa to enter Germany. It added that he had apparently been able to travel to the country using a Schengen visa that was issued by a "neighbouring country".
German media reported that Omar travelled from the Netherlands, where he had participated in a World Health Organization (WHO) conference in early November.
Since the Taliban swept back to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, billions of dollars in assistance and assets have been frozen by the West in what the United Nations (UN) has described as an "unprecedented fiscal shock" to the country's aid-dependent economy.