The 'good' and 'bad' Turks of Germany

Published 25.07.2018 21:26

Over the last couple of days, the case of Mesut Özil, one of the leading football players in Germany who is of Turkish descent, has come to the fore. The world is currently following the new developments concerning Özil. He has scored many goals for Germany, contributing to the country's success in football with his performance. The former football players who effusively talk about him have not even approached the success level of Özil throughout their careers. And none of them contributed to German football as much as Özil. He was also one of the leading figures in Germany's publicity activities abroad. When the subject comes to Özil, the world has always spoken highly of "the German football player Mesut."

But recent developments have shocked the world. The obnoxious language used by a former German player who is currently managing a renowned German football club was scandalous. He accused Mesut of deliberately sabotaging the German team. The heinous remarks against Özil issued by a person who served time for tax fraud in Germany actually display the typical xenophobic and anti-Turkish mindset.

The chief editor of Germany's most popular newspaper, which is known for its hostility to Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused Özil of representing himself as a victim, showcasing the problematic perspective towards Turkey and Turkish people.

What I write above is just the tip of the iceberg. Some groups impertinently denounced Özil as a traitor only because of a photo showing him with President Erdoğan and a signed uniform. After Germany limped out of the World Cup following this meeting, the German media already biased against Turkey went so far to accuse Özil for the failure.

Eventually, Özil reacted to all the unjust statements and xenophobic attacks and announced that he would no longer play for the German national team, which caused an outcry.

As Özil said, those defining him as a German when he is successful but as a Turk when he fails, display their xenophobic inclinations, which hardly surprises me. As a former European Parliament member for Germany, bureaucrat in Hessen state and local politician in Gross Gerau Provincial Council, I was not surprised by what Özil had to go through. In fact, I have written a book on this very theme. In my book "Man wird nie Deutscher/You will never be German," I pointed out that you will always be a second-class citizen as a Turk and a foreigner regardless of your achievements and services to German society.

Formerly, when Mesut scored a goal for Germany in the Germany-Turkey game played in Berlin, he was applauded as a "good Turk." But when he posed in front of cameras with President Erdoğan, he was labelled a "bad Turk." This unfortunately reflects the present situation in Germany. Although Germany criticizes many countries across the country due to freedom of expression, they label Turks expressing ideas as unfavorable. Apparently, we are all held guilty for supporting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and praising the efforts of President Erdoğan. What kind of a democratic notion is that?

It is possible to make a career in the federal parliament by supporting the terror group, the PKK. Despite that, your career may end if you support the president of NATO ally Turkey.

It seems like it is a prerequisite to insult Turkey and the Turkish president to become a "good Turk" while supporting the democratically elected president despite all the pressures will mark us as a "bad Turk."

This trajectory is alarming. The democrats of Germany standing against such double standards must take up a position against this. The case of Özil has been the latest instance displaying the gravity of the situation.

The people who adopt Germany as a homeland and contribute to German society are entitled to show their love for Turkey due to their ethnic background. Restricting such a thing is more than unfair.

It must be remembered that it would be more reasonable to understand the Turkish-Germans supporting Germany except when the country plays against Turkey. The Turkish-Germans labelled as "bad" are playing critical roles in the improvement of bilateral relations between Germany and Turkey in many fields, especially in economics.

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