Muslim shooting king can keep title
A Muslim shooting champion who was set to be stripped of his title in western Germany for not being Christian can keep his crown, a conservative shooting federation said on Wednesday. But he can't take part in the next stage of the competition.
Mithat Gedik made headlines across Germany when he was told he couldn’t keep his title of Schützenkönig (shooting king) of his town of Werl in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Only Christians were allowed to be members of the society and thus compete in the championships, according to a statute in its constitution.
But the Catholic-leaning body of which Gedik's shooting club is a member, the Historic German Shooting Federation (BHDS), changed tack on Wednesday following fierce criticism.
The BHDS held a special meeting in Leverkusen and said they would make an “exception” in the 33-year-old’s case and not raise any objections over his title.
But they added he would not be allowed to compete at the county shooting championships, despite winning his town’s competition.
“It is in our constitution that we only accept Christians,” a BHDS spokesman said.
North Rhine-Westphalia's integration minister Guntram Schneider (SPD) criticized the decision not to allow a Muslim to take part in the county championships.
"The Catholic shooting federations should enshrine values in its statutes not religion," Schneider told the Express.
Gedik was born to Turkish parents and grew up in Werl where he lives with his German wife and four children.
He said he was happy to remain shooting champion. “I hope that we have inadvertently sent out a signal and that other clubs question whether such a statute is still relevant," he said.
The BHDS has 400,000 members nationwide.