Mesut Özil, the German football star of Turkish descent, has become the latest target of racists in Germany.
Clearly, racism and xenophobia dominate German society – so much so, that a once-celebrated football hero has now become the target of a smear campaign, simply because he posed for a photo with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and presented him a jersey.
Özil's performance in the World Cup in Russia has been criticized and he has been accused of being the villain responsible for the sad demise of Germany in the first rounds of the tournament. Even his soccer abilities have been questioned by some German football authorities.
In Germany, some sports writers have openly criticized Özil in a racist manner. Bayern Munich President, Uli Hoeness, had the audacity to claim Özil was, in fact, a low-quality player and did not deserve to be on the German squad. He said he was a poor performer who had failed to make an impact on the field.
Statistics, however, prove him wrong. In fact, Özil scored 23 goals and assisted 38 in his German national team career – a perfect record.
Hoeness also claimed that Özil last successful tackle came in the 2014 World Cup, which Germany won; yet, statistics released by a German TV showed Özil had made 20 successful tackles for the German team since that cup.
The fact that Arsenal has held on to Özil as a valued member is enough to silence his critics.
The German Football Federation (DFB) chairman and several people like him have accused Özil of bad performances simply to cover up their own responsibility for the World Cup flop.
So, Özil wrote a moving three-page statement explaining in detail why he was quitting the German national football team and put an end to all the controversies.
Özil is the best example of Turks integrating into German society. Yet, it seems Germans do not want integration; they want people to assimilate. And the problem is not just Mesut Özil. The problem is the racist tendencies eating away at German society.
There is a growing pressure in Germany on people of Turkish descent, the largest minority in the country. Turkish workplaces are being raided; Turkish mosques are targets of arson attacks and radical Germans are beating up Turks in the streets.
German authorities are paying lip service to neo-Nazis and cannot control the rising trends of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, which should all be wake-up calls for Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration.
It is sad that the German right is towing the line of radical far-right parties and politicians instead of vehemently opposing them and trying to curb their political influence.
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