17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman

Turks remain concerned over neo-Nazi terror in Germany

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8 May 2012, Tuesday /ABDULLAH BOZKURT
Turks continue to have uneasy feelings in the German city of Erfurt, the capital of the eastern state of Thuringia, where all the prime suspects of the neo-Nazi serial murders of 10 people, including eight Turks, were born and nurtured.

“Our people are in a state of fear,” said Bülent Canpolat, speaking to a Turkish delegation composed of lawmakers and media professionals on Monday at the Center for Migration and Integration (Das Zentrum für Integration und Migration in German or ZIM) in Erfurt. “There are still incidents going on here and albeit minor ones,” he added, referring to racially motivated attacks against immigrants, mainly Turks, who compose the largest minority in Germany with some 3 million people.

Medine Yılmaz, who studies public administration at the University of Erfurt, recalled some of the recent incidents she has witnessed at the school, all racially motivated but not necessarily against Turks. “A friend of mine who wears a headscarf was harassed on the bus, while another was verbally assaulted by a German racist,” she said. Yılmaz is part of an activists’ team that organizes a public marathon in the city aiming to promote diversity and awareness of racial problems in the city.

She also said volunteers, native Germans and others, will be organizing a protest on Wednesday across from the place where former central banker Thilo Sarrazin, who argued that Turkish and Arab immigrants sponged off the state and threatened Germany’s culture, will be reading his best-selling book titled “Germany Abolishes Itself.” The book, written in 2010, is full of insults and stereotypes targeting Muslims. It created an outrage in Germany when he claimed that Germany’s Muslim community was “intellectually inferior,” and its members were incapable of adapting to the German culture or learning the language.

The protesters have unsuccessfully petitioned city and state officials for the cancellation of the book reading even though the initiative called “Cancel Sarrazin” was signed by 236 institutions and individuals including state politicians from the left, the Greens, academics and trade unions, church groups and civic society organizations. They were only allowed to hold a demonstration across the street.

The racial problems are not just limited to this city or the state. In the same year when the Sarrazin’s book was published, polls produced results reflecting disturbing trends across Germany, with the majority of Germans saying that they consider Muslims a social burden the costs of which are greater than their share of production. Close to 90 percent of Germans admitted they found the book convincing, and 20 percent indicated they would vote for Sarrazin if he founded a political party.

Compared to other states in Germany, Thüringen has very few Turks, only numbering around 2000 in a population of 2.2 million people. They ranked in fifth place among all foreigners living in the state, which is 35,700, according to Bernhard Rieder, undersecretary in the interior ministry for the state of Thüringen. Most Turks live in the state capital, and many are asylum seekers. Turkish community representatives at the gathering, which took place at ZIM on Monday night, said they were very happy to see Turkish lawmakers visiting them and talking to them about problems encountered in Germany. They conveyed their grievances concerning German authorities’ treatment of immigrant and minority groups, saying that there is a need for a mental change in the approach taken by German officials.

According to Beate Tröster, general director of ZIM, Turkish politicians were the first ever group that came to the state to look into problems faced by immigrants. She admitted that she was ashamed by the murders of eight Turks, one Greek and one national policewoman by the neo-Nazi groups that originated in her state. “I can do nothing about that unfortunately,” she said, stressing that she has confidence in German authorities’ investigation into the previously unsolved murders.

The state is economically in poor condition with regard to other states in Germany and is still coping with the effects of the reunification of Germany and thus is a perfect place to nourish extremist groups.

Our people simply did not know how to respond to foreigners at first, Tröster said. “We have introduced courses in ZIM as well as in schools and universities on diversity and Islamophobia,” she said, noting that language was the main barrier to the integration of immigrants.

A Turkish delegation is on a five-day visit to Germany to be briefed on the progress in the investigation of racially motivated attacks by neo-Nazis. The delegation was invited by the German Federal Foreign Office as part of the Guest Program of the Federal Republic of Germany to inform Turkish visitors on the findings of commission inquiries that have been set up by both federal and state parliaments.

During the visit, the Turkish delegation met on Tuesday with members of the inquiry commission in the state assembly of Thuringia as well as Birgit Diezel, the speaker of the assembly. The state is also investigating the failures in the security and intelligence forces as a separate inquiry set up by the Interior Ministry. Both are looking into a string of racially motivated murders carried out across Germany by a neo-Nazi group from Thüringen that evaded detection for more than a decade.

The neo-Nazi group’s activities only came to light last November when two suspected founders, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, were found dead following an apparent murder-suicide as police closed in on them after a bank robbery, and a third alleged core member, Beate Zschaepe, turned herself in. The string of killings of small businessmen, including a florist, a tailor and fast-food stall owners -- long known as the “kebab murders” -- went unsolved for years, with authorities suspecting organized crime rather than politically motivated violence.

There were early sign indicating that neo-Nazi groups may have been behind these murders, but this was overlooked by authorities. “We were telling officials about our suspicions, but they were not listening to us,” Canpolat said, recalling the outrage the Turkish community felt when the police discovered that the murders had nothing to with the mafia or organized crime.

@Widen Perspective, yeah good to have a clear view about crimes in Germany, but never try to say that crime by an individual is the same as a systematical hate crime by a terror cell. All ethnic groups have criminals, but never try to use a language that tries to justify those killing, or was it a b...
Most Turks are judged by the way they look and present themselfs! If you don't make an effort to improve your image even when your going to meet the leader of your country then you are a subject to discrimination. Sadly like I said Turkeys image has been left at the mercy of Turkish immigrants   in ...
@Saaten Maagar, You could say the same about the native red Indians in the USA but do the Armenians care! Or what about the Armenians in Australia do they ever address the brutal crimes christians Commited against abourigenies! It's fine living in Australia or the USA as an Armenian but please shut-...
Bjorn seems to be a racist. He thinks it is a far worse crime if a German kills a Turk, than if a Turk kills a German. And he does not even want to talk about Turks killing Turks. Sad to see how little a human life is worth for him.
Bjorn. What I am saying is that we should worry about all murders, then we can get a more systematic (as you call it) viewof what is going on and can focus on the most important issues. To just pick one and leave everything else does not make sense.
Widen Perspective
@Widen perspective, according to this moron, Germans kill Turks and Turks kill Germans and the live goes on, you mean, none should worry, they will keep on murdering? There is difference between a crime and a systematical act of terror. Otherwise, the Americans killed during 9/11 are just nothing co...
I would suggest that we also look at related cases, i.e. how many Turks have been murdered by other Turks and how many Germans have been murdered by Turks. Then we would get a better picture of the crimes in Germany.
Widen perspective
@Satan Maagar, you have to understand the difference between fables and reality. Your pathetic, no wonder Turks won't mend ties with you haters.
Of course these kinds of crimes are embarrassing for a country. We see it in Germany here, we have seen the same in Turkey with the killings of priests, missionairies, Dink etc. It is very difficult to stop this kind of tragic crimes, but it is the duty of the Government to really go to the bottom w...
A small taste of how Armenians felt in their own homeland around 1915.
Saaten Maagar
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