May 10, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11321

Ferid Heider, Germany-Based Imam With Reported Islamist Connections, Compares Hamas's October 7 Attack To Ukraine's Defense, Criticizes German Foreign Policy

May 10, 2024
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11321

Following Hamas's October 7 attack and Israel's subsequent military campaign, prominent Berlin-born imam Ferid Heider has shared his firm stance on these events extensively on his social media accounts, including: TikTok, where he has 1,112 followers;[1] Instagram, where he has 11,600 followers;[2] Facebook, where he has 661 followers;[3] and X, formerly Twitter, where he has 284 followers.[4]

Background On Ferid Heider

Heider was born in Berlin to an Iraqi father and a Polish mother and studied at the prominent Al-Azhar University in Cairo following the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence, followed by a study in shari'a at the "Instituts européens des sciences humaines"[5] in Château-Chinon. This was supplemented by degrees in Arabic Studies and Islamic Scholarship from the "Free University" (FU) in Berlin, as well as attendance at the "Deutscher Informationsdienst über den Islam e.V." (Didi),[6] where he acquired knowledge in tafsir (i.e., Islamic exegesis), hadith, and usul ul-fiq ("methodologies of jurisprudence"). Heider published a book titled Introduction to Hadith Science,[7] and in 2012, he obtained approval to narrate and transcribe Sahih al-Bukhari from Sheikh Aiman Swaid.[8]

Alongside his active online presence on the popular social media platforms, of which his Instagram account is managed by "Islam" with its YouTube channel with 961,000 followers,[9] a networking platform of German-speaking Muslims aimed at fostering the communication of Islamic scholarship and Islamic knowledge conveyed through online lectures. Heider also serves as a guest lecturer at the "Initiative Berliner Muslime"[10] (IBMUS) as well as the "Islamkolleg Deutschland e.V."[11] which is Germany's first imam college, and an effort to better monitor the educational prerequisites to effectively facilitate sermons and Islamic scholarship in accordance with the country's liberal-democratic principles.

Heider is well connected in the communities in Germany's capital including the "Neuköllner Begegnugsstaette" (NBS)[12] known as Dar-as-Salam Mosque, "Interkulturelles Zentrum fuer Dialog und Bildung e.V."[13] (IZDB), the Bilal Mosque, and his "Teiba Kulturzentrum e.V."[14] The Teiba association is being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) for its suspected ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the BfV-issued 2016 annual report.[15] The association offers a variety of services, including Quran recitation and other Islamic classes, extracurricular activities, introductory meetings for children and parents teaching Arabic and Islamic foundational knowledge, as well as facilitates homework support and tutoring. He also lectures at the "Islamischen Kultur und Erziehungszentrum (IKEZ), as documented by BfV in 2016.[16]

Heider's Islamist Connections

Germany's security agency the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is aware of Heider for his leadership roles in Teiba, IKEZ, and IZDB. As early as 2012, the Baden-Württemberg Constitutional Protection Office's annual state report[17] identified Heider as a key participant (presumably as a lecturer) at the annual meeting of the association of "Deutsche Muslimische Gemeinschaft e.V."[18] (DMG), Germany's most important organization of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Heider was previously associated with the "Palästinensische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland e. V."[19] (PGD), which, according to the BfV's 2016 report, is home to a significant number of Hamas supporters, while the office in North Rhine-Westphalia suspects that the PGD serves as Hamas' representative in Germany.[20] Heider further served as a guest lecturer at the "Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland" (IGD), associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, at the organization's annual conference in 2018.[21]

Heider was invited as a guest speaker at the IGD Annual Conference in 2018 held in the city of Hagen.

Heider's Reactions To The October 7 Attack And To Germany's Response, And Statements On The Place Of Antisemitism And Jerusalem In Islam

On October 8, Heider shared a video on Instagram titled "A Mind Game About The Middle East Conflict!" during which compares the Hamas-led attack on Israel to Ukraine's defense response to Russia's war invasion. He states the following: "Let's assume the Gaza Strip was the Ukraine and Israel was Russia – What would the coverage in the German media look like today?! I will leave the answer up to you. [This is] simply a mind game."[22] The video was additionally shared on his TikTok account.[23]

Heider can be seen in self-recorded video titled "A Mind Game About The Middle East Conflict!"

Heider published on October 26, 2023, a video titled "What Is Happening With Germany?" in which he voiced his clear doubt about Germany's integrity by declaring Israel as its "raison d'etre." He says: "What is happening with Germany? What's happening with this beautiful country of the poets and the thinkers? Is this the country in which we were educated at school? That we should question! To think critically should not entail simply accepting every opinion. What is wrong with this country, which has lost its way. Learning from the National Socialist era, so that these crimes do not happen again? That people do not just look the other way, when a crime happens? What is wrong with this country, where you have to be afraid now to express your opinion, to be critical of German foreign policy, because otherwise you could lose your job? As it has happened who have expressed criticism against the one-sided German stance regarding Israel and the Gaza Strip. How can it be that someone loses their job just because he questions that one should unconditionally side with Israel – to stand by Israel? Where was this Germany? I do not  know where the journey will take us, but if it continues like this, then it will have dire consequences for this country as many bright minds will leave this country. And I am not talking about people with a migrant background! No, no, I am talking about native Germans who have that feeling of no longer being in the Germany in which they grew up."[24]

Heider in a video titled "What Is Happening In Germany, The Country Of Poets And Thinkers"

Heider argues the close affiliation between Muslims and Jews by pointing out that according to Islam, Jews are  "Ahl Al-Kitab [people of the book]."[25] He then quotes Germany's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said during his speech at the Islam Conference that antisemitism is deep-rooted in Islam, which Heider said was "complete nonsense." He begins his short sermon with a rhetorical question: "Why did the prophet fight the Jewish tribes? Because they were aggressors, it had nothing to do with them being Jews. He also fought against the Quraysh tribe. Did he have anything against Arabs? Nonsense! He fought against his own people, his own tribe. Abu Bakr almost killed his father during the Battle of Badr. Some even killed their fathers and brothers. So does this mean that I am now an anti-Arabist or something [...] there were certain historical events in Medina! [...] but the prophet did not fight them because they were Jews but because they were aggressors. Our prophet had a Jewish wife [Safiya bint Huyayy] We know that even today, Judaism is seen not only as a religion but also as an ethnicity. That is why many Jews who live in Israel are Jews by descent but are atheists, they do not believe in God at all. They do not believe in God, but still call themselves Jews. So that means Safiye was a Muslim Jew [...] how can the prophet have been an antisemite if the Qur'an allows [Muslim men] to marry a Jewish woman. That means that my own children, I must not force my Jewish wife to accept Islam, I must respect her religion, my own children are Jews from the [maternal] line of Judaism [...] the Qur'an and the sunnah of the prophet are free of antisemitism. It is about aggressors regardless of whether a Jew, Christian or even a Muslim. But unfortunately, it is always misrepresented!"[26]

Heider can be seen in his recorded online lecture titled "Can Muslims Be Antisemitic?"

In a brief Instagram post in February 2024, Heider reminded his followers of the significance of Jerusalem for Muslims: "Why did our prophet first travel to Jerusalem on his journey to heaven? Why did he not ascend directly from Mecca to heaven when mecca is holier for us Muslims than Bayt Al-Maqdis [Jerusalem]? He wanted to show us that Jerusalem is part of our religion. Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is a part of our faith [...] especially in these times it is vital that we emphasize this again and again. Preserve the Al-Aqsa mosque and reach out to our brothers and sisters in Gaza."[27]

Heider can be seen in his video titled "Why Jerusalem?"

Teiba e.V.'s Fundraising Campaign

Heider's "Teiba e.V." began a campaign to raise funds for their proposal to build a mosque in the Berlin neighborhood of Spandau on a total space of 1,500m² (2,000euro/m²), at a cost of 3,000,000 euros. The mosque will be in close proximity of the Teiba community, which is expected to attract 1,000 visitors each week from about 40 countries, with 50% of them being "young." Donations can be made via traditional wire transfer to the specified financial account, PayPal, direct transfer as well as via an online form found on its webpage.[28] 

The website specifies how the money collected will be allocated. 

The website offers an overview of the planned mosque project. 

Furthermore, a debt of over 30,000 euros has been accumulated throughout the ongoing mosque renovation. The first revenues were mostly derived from "sadaqah," a voluntary charity. Teiba e.V. launched on March 23, 2024, a fundraising campaign on "Commons Place," the first Muslim crowdfunding site in Germany,[29] to pay the debt. On the crowdfunding page, Heider is shown speaking to the community soliciting donations and notes that "Everything you donate is a sadqa jariyyya [voluntary charity]. Every child who learns in the mosque will receive hassanat [i.e., reward for good deeds], every child who learns the Arabic language will receive hassanat [...] even after your death […]"[30] By March 27, 5,000 euro had been raised, while by April 5 25,350 euro had been raised from 900 supporters. A day prior the campaign's expiration date on April 13, Teiba collected had 31,020 euros from 1106 supporters.

Heider calling for donations to pay for mosque renovations.

Co-initiators of the campaign alongside Heider are Maher Beru and Mohamad Hajaj.  BfV classifies Hajaj as an active Islamist and reports that he is the managing director of the Berlin-based "Inssan e.V."[31] a self-proclaimed anti-discrimination and anti-Islamophobia network, which is also said to have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. With the inauguration of a state-sponsored "Expert Commission on Anti-Muslim Racism"[32] in February 2021, Hajjaj, who also serves as Teiba's deputy chairman, was named to the board of the commission in Berlin.[33] In addition to his various functions, Heider too serves as a member of the Berlin Imams Council,[34] which was established in 2021 as a beneficiary of the Berlin Senate Cultural Administration. The council also maintains ties with groups identified by the BfV as having connections to Islamism.[35]

Heider's Hajj And Umrah Travel Agency

Heider runs a travel agency specializing in Hajj (i.e., the pilgrimage to Mecca) and Umrah (a secondary pilgrimage to Mecca in Islam) trips. The agency, called "Makarim"[36] is located in Mainz. He organizes the trips alongside fellow community member Soleman El Aissati, a well-versed pilgrim of Berber origin with 15 years of experience who also runs a Halal store in Aachen "Halal UG."[37] Makarim offers religious retreats in an appropriate setting. On his Instagram, Heider introduces himself as a coach "Coach for Dunya [the world, i.e., worldly affairs] & Akhira [the Hereafter]."

Both travel facilitators Heider and Soleman El Aissati introduce themselves on the "Makarim" website.

"Makarim" gives its 2024-2025 Umrah travel schedule on its webpage.

"Islam" posted on January 17 an event graphic promoting a lecture Heider held that day at the "Das Islamische Jugendzentrum Berlin e.V."[38]


[1], April 5, 2024

[2], April 5, 2024.

[3], April 5, 2024.

[4], April 5, 2024.

[5], April 5, 2024.

[6], April 5, 2024.

[7]ührung_in_die_Hadīthwissenschaften/yBqkPgAACAAJ?hl=en, April 5, 2024.

[8],center%20in%20Spandau%20since%202009, April 5, 2024.

[9], April 5, 2024.

[10], April 5, 2024.

[11], April 5, 2024.

[12] Both NBS and IZDB have received millions of euros in development funds by the Qatari charities department during 2012 and 2016, hence are among the greatest beneficiaries of Qatari funding., April 5, 2024.

[13], April 5, 2024.


[15], April 7, 2024.

[16], April 7, 2024.

[17], April 7, 2024.

[18], April 7, 2024.

[19], April 7, 2024.

[20], April 7, 2024

[21], April 7, 2024.







[28], April 7, 2024

[29], April 7, 2024

[30], March 23, 2024

[31] , April 7, 2024

[32], April 7, 2024

[33] Hajjaj is the acting regional Berlin chairman of the Central Council of Muslims and a known figure to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution

[34] Rat der Imame und Gelehrten in Deutschland e.V. (RIGD)

[35] Under the pretext of "legalized Islamism", organizations are deemed as non-violent hence do not consider an acute threat, however, function more like a 'wolf in sheep's clothing'.

[36], April 7, 2024.

[37],+Aachen/HRB+26814, April 7, 2024.

[38], January 1, 2024.

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