Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper interviewed Özkan last week during a visit by the minister-designate to her father's dressmaking shop. Introducing her as the brave daughter of a dressmaker in the headline of the article, the paper quotes Özkan, who was appointed last Monday as the minister for social, health and family integration in Lower Saxony Minister-President Christian Wulff's cabinet, talking about Germans trying to intimidate her because of her ethnicity.
“Unfortunately, there are still people who say: ‘You are guest workers. There is no place for you; you cannot participate in society',” Özkan is quoted as saying. “I will not be intimidated by such threats,” she added.
Özkan, a German-born Turk who has been a member of the Hamburg state parliament since March 2008, is scheduled to be sworn in as minister today.
The paper reported that two officers are guarding the newly appointed minister and are stationed in front of her house day and night.
Asked where she finds the confidence to be Germany's first minister of Turkish origin, Özkan said that without the trust her parents instilled in her, she could not have done it. “My mother taught me that women can also work and have a family; my father helped me, too.”
Her remarks last Wednesday on the enrollment of Turkish children in German kindergartens also became a topic of discussion amid debate on the enrollment of Turks in Turkish schools in Germany. Özkan believes the key to success in Germany is to learn the German language.