UNESCO criticises gun club for snubbing Muslim

27th Feb 2015

Abdul Adil

The decision of Germany’s largest gun club to disbar a title-winner over his Muslim religion came back to bite members after their bid for UNESCO cultural heritage status was suspended.


Mithat Gedik was crowned Schützenkönig

Last July, 33-year-old Mithat Gedik was crowned Schützenkönig (marksman king) by his local club in Werl, North Rhine-Westphalia – only to have his title withheld because the organization’s ancient statute meant that non-Christians were ineligible to claim the crown.

The Federation of Historic German Marksmanship Brotherhoods (BHDS) club then granted him the prize as an ‘exception’ after the case was taken up and condemned by anti-discrimination authorities.

Because the actions of the BHDS did not reflect “accessible and open fostering of tradition”, its application to receive UNESCO World Heritage status was suspended citing a letter sent to Europe’s main shooting association, the EGS.

The BHDS condemned the ruling.

BHDS spokesman, Rolf Nieborg, said, “We have espoused Christian values for more than 800 years, not just in Germany but in many other European countries.”

“We expect the same tolerance from them as they expect from us,” he said.

Strictly speaking, Gedik is not even allowed to be a member of his shooting society because section two of its statute dates that it is an “association of Christian people”.

Gedik, who was born to Turkish parents and grew up in Germany, studied Catholicism at school and lives with his German wife and four children in Werl.

He also volunteers at the fire department and is on the board of his local shooting club, all of which made it “incomprehensible” to him that such a situation should arise in the 21st Century.

The BHDS then convened a special meeting at which it made an exception in Gedik’s case, allowing him to keep his title. But he was disbarred from competing at the county shooting championships, despite winning his town’s competition.

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