Majority of German Turks believe state supported neo-Nazis

Police officers take the 36-year-old Ralf Wohlleben (not pictured) to a habeas corpus at the German Supreme Court (BGH) in Karlsruhe, Germany, who is suspected of having supported the terrorist group 'national socialist underground' (NSU). (Photo: EPA)

January 11, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:08:00

German state organs have provided varying degrees of support to a recently uncovered neo-Nazi ring in that country, according to an overwhelming majority of Turkish immigrants living in Germany, a recent survey has found.

The survey, titled “Racist neo-Nazi Murders in Germany: Opinions and Feelings of Turks,” was conducted between Dec. 5 and Dec. 15 among 1,058 respondents the researchers say are representative of the general Turkish population in Germany. It was conducted by researchers from Hacettepe University's Migration and Politics Research Center (HÜGO).

The survey comes some two months after the discovery of a neo-Nazi ring that was responsible for at least 10 murders. Nine of them were immigrants; eight being of Turkish origin, the other one Greek. The 10th victim was a police officer. As the investigation into the terrorist ring unfolded it became evident that Germany's federal intelligence agency, the Organization for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), had been watching every move of the gang and had agents among the gang members. An investigation is under way into the murders, but the findings hint that the BfV possibly knew about some of the murders. It is now known that a BfV agent was present at the scene of one of the murders when it happened, and some German authors have suggested that the same agent might be the one who pulled the trigger. It is also known that the neo-Nazi gang was active since 2000 and authorities in Germany are now re-investigating all murder cases where the victims were immigrants that occurred after this date.

Some 85 percent of the respondents said the state had provided immense, moderate or minimal level of assistance and protection to the neo-Nazi ring. Evidence indicating that some members of state intelligence units and the failure of the security forces to capture the perpetrators of many of the immigrant murders since 2000 have drastically eroded confidence felt on the part of Turkish immigrants towards the German government, the researchers said. Those who said the murderers had no protection or support from the state at all numbered 7.36 percent.

The respondents responded to 36 questions in the survey, which found that 87 percent of the Turkish community in Germany is closely following news pertaining to the neo-Nazi murders.

Turks residing in Germany, the researchers say, were able to assess the situation calmly and without giving into nationalist or populist sentiment. A majority expressed that there was a clear distinction between racist radicals and the wider German society. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said the murders were perpetrated by radical and marginal groups. Only 2.30 percent said the entire German society is responsible for the murders, while only 6.78 percent said a majority of German society was responsible.

Seventy-seven percent of Germany's Turkish community also expressed their belief that the neo-Nazi murders were going to continue, indicating that they are worried and distrustful of the ongoing investigations. However, 73.88 percent said they were not “afraid” but rather “sad” about the situation. Some 12.3 percent said they felt “anger” regarding the murders, while only 7.87 percent said they felt “fear.”

Sixty percent of the respondents also said they believed that Germany's politicians are trying to either completely bury the subject of the neo-Nazi murders or direct it down another course.

Only 35 percent said they believed German politicians were truly disquieted by the murders and are trying to find a solution to solve the problem. Forty-eight percent said they did not feel that German politicians regretted the murders or were planning to do something about them. More than 70 percent said an apology issued by the Bundestag was a sign of regret on the part of German politicians.

However, despite all of these perceptions, Turks in Germany believe they are an inseparable part of Germany. A vast majority, 77.38 percent, said they were planning on staying in Germany permanently. Only 4 percent said they were resolved to return to Turkey. Hacettepe University researches note that this indicates the neo-Nazis' aim of instilling fear into the Turkish community had failed.

The survey also found that if the numbers of politically active immigrants were higher, discrimination in Germany targeting immigrants would be much less and that integration would be easier to achieve for immigrants.

The researchers noted that Turks were not stressing conflict or fear, but emphasizing the will to live together with the rest of German society. The researchers noted that this finding had the potential to add a new perspective to ongoing debates about the integration of immigrants in Germany, indicating that the problems associated with integration of Turks perhaps might be a problem of “social acceptance,” rather than a refusal to integrate.

 

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