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Outrage over ‘prime-time racism’ against Turks

The Local · 10 Feb 2012, 16:52

Published: 10 Feb 2012 16:52 GMT+01:00

“Humour is when you laugh despite yourself – but in this case the laughs stuck in our throats,” said Corrado Di Benedetto, head of the Foreigners’ Advisory Council in Hesse. “The freedom of the Karneval is valuable. And satire is allowed to do anything – except degrade others. This violated all the rules of decency.”

The council called the show “prime-time racism.”

The monologue, aired nationally on state TV on February 2, but reported Thursday by the European edition of Turkish paper Hürriyet, was part of the “Frankfurt: Helau” sitting at the Karneval season in the Rhineland.

According to a report in Bild newspaper, 39-year-old Mainz dentist Patricia Lowin took to the stage in a headscarf and announced in an exaggerated Turkish accent and broken German, “Here on Döner TV, I will show you what is integration,” and then revealed she was wearing a Bavarian dirndl dress in her “favourite colour: Turk-oise.”

As her assumed persona “Ayse,” Lowin proceeded to make a number of “Döner”-related puns, along the lines of “Döner for One,” after Germany’s favourite New Year’s Eve comedy sketch “Dinner for One.”

Another gem from Lowin’s comedic efforts included this: “I have some experience in the media – I worked as a cleaner at the [state TV channel] ZDF. And my brother Ahmet works in a closed (broadcasting) institution in Weiterstadt. He has a full-time job there for ten years without bail.”

While the audience in the large studio of the Hessischer Rundfunk (HR), the local state broadcaster, cheered Lowin enthusiastically, the Foreigner’s Advisory Council is demanding an apology from HR.

Story continues below…

An HR spokesman said there had been no intention of offending Turkish Germans, and said that using clichés was part of the Karneval tradition. He added that opinion is always divided on whether a particular joke works or not.

The Local/bk

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Your comments about this article

12:09 February 10, 2012 by pepsionice
The problem here, is that if this had been done by a Turk....they would have said nothing. The fact it was done by a German....in the minds of some Turks....it was just plain wrong. But you could say the same logic when some German plays an American and does American humor. Or the German plays some Swede and attempts to do Swedish humor.
12:59 February 10, 2012 by JenDigs
I've seen so much anti-Turkish bias here it's rather scary. (I had a German banker tell me that even though I'm not German, I would qualify for a higher loan much faster because "...at least you aren't a Turk!" Another time, whilst setting-up for an event at my son's school, the caretaker made a comment about spacing the chairs further apart because "you know those Turkish ladies are all really fat.")

I think the comments made were absolutely offensive. Think about it this way: in most places, when a non-Jewish comedian makes the typical Jewish-jokes, they are usually called an anti-semite... why is it ok to do this with other cultures? If the performer was a Turk, then I agree, people would not complain- because we are allowed to poke fun at ourselves- it's when we poke fun at others it becomes... well... not so funny.
13:06 February 10, 2012 by jg.
"And satire is allowed to do anything ­ except degrade others."

Personally, I didn't find the sketch particularly funny but you can't start making lists of topics which are arbitrarily off limits. It's a slippery slope to having politicians and other public figures ban satire/criticism of their actions.
13:42 February 10, 2012 by freechoice
stereotypes are really stupid. it never occurred to me that Germans have no sense of humors like what many people claims.
14:18 February 10, 2012 by supernova
I'm a German citizen with immigrants and I find it to be funny. This is funny folks chill out. If you think this is racist you should watch Russel Peters and well known Canadian-Indian comedian specialized on racial jokes. People love him cuz it's all for a laughter sake.

To me there is a simple motive in life, wear nice dresses, stay at luxury hotels in warm countries, driving expensive cars, chill out and don't waste time arguing your heads off about these mini man made issues. After all YOU KNOW THAT WE ARE MORTALS AND WILL DIE ONE DAY!
15:42 February 10, 2012 by ChrisRea
So how do the 'Turk-oise', 'Döner for One' and the other wordplay jokes degrade Turks? If somebody tells me that I eat lots of Döner (or any other food), should I feel insulted?

The one with experience in industry by working at ZDF as a cleaning lady can be considered racist only if one really wants it so.

Maybe there are some racist puns in the jokes I did not understood.
16:08 February 10, 2012 by Grebo
There are two things in this world that I can't stand: Racism and the Turks.
17:09 February 10, 2012 by raandy
This was a satire about Turkish people living in Germany. It did not come across as anti Turkish.

It is common knowledge that most Turkish immigrants have one foot in Germany and one in Turkey and are loyal to both.

I think some people are making a lot more out of this than there is.
17:51 February 10, 2012 by zeddriver
People really need to take a chill pill. I have always been a fan of BBC's top gear. One can count on some sort of dig at the expense of Americans or their cars. I could get mad when they call all Americans fat and incestuous. So what. A lot of Americans and quite a few Germans are in fact tubs of lard. It's still one of my favorite shows.
22:40 February 10, 2012 by Runnerguy45
Some of these people need to lighten up. The garbage I here from the PC crowd is tiresome.
22:58 February 10, 2012 by bernie1927
Why this super sensitivity? It's carnival, for cripes' sake. These puns are not viscous, they are supposed to be funny. If the Turks are so offended by these little puns, maybe they should not be in Germany?
23:57 February 10, 2012 by Grumpy Old Man
At Carnival time jokes are made about a lot of things and people, especially politicians. If you, as politician, take yourself so seriously that you raise objection to every gag about you, then you are in the wrong business. Why do the Turkish people take objection to such jokes? Because they are Turkish or because they have the German nationality? Turkish people, think about that. You can't have both.
01:21 February 11, 2012 by Navigator_B
Hilarious, specially so soon after all the news of the so called döner murders.
06:46 February 11, 2012 by dr.makni49
It is sad but the trumped up fury has some depth far away from the element of satire. If the two communities, German and the Turks had ideal understanding, it was an event to draw pleasure from. The fact is that both know that Turks are assumed as immigrants attracted to survive after finding access to one of the top economies in the world. With German population shrinking, it is German's compulsion to seek them despite prevailing anguish against the Turks, the main ground being that they do not integrate and want to maintain their identity but integration limits or the expanse no one can specify. While both cling to each other as of necessity, there remains perceptional gulf, more with Turks who, despite filling the space for the work force, know that they are looked down upon. On the contrary, as some one mentioned above about Antisemitism, Germans inability to cut Jewish jokes stands high in contrast. They can not do it. When the environment for jokes is biased to such a limit, why resort to targeting a community that is doing well for Germany. It is time German stop challenging Turks on every debate to 'leave Germany' when arguments run out of steam. Thanks
09:00 February 11, 2012 by KnechtRuprecht
The self righteous can never be the subject of laughter.
09:20 February 11, 2012 by bugger
For German passport holders of whichever heritage, Germany is responsible and nobody else. "Turkish Germans"? If they count as Germans, then they are German citizens, and Germans have something called satire as part of their culture. These "Turkish Germans" have to live with it. After all, they came to Germany voluntarily. As every immigrant everywhere in the world, integrate or leave. Just because my parents were British is no reason for British institutions to lift even one finger for me if I do not hold a British passport. It's the country of your passport which is responsible for you, so integrate or don't immigrate.
10:37 February 11, 2012 by smart2012
It is known that German comedians are not funny, and to make fun they can only do pointing at others, or get drunk spoken to drunken people. No new news... And btw, Germany was rebuilt by major Turkish labour after ww2, as German men were not around...
11:16 February 11, 2012 by Hicham1st
I find it really disgusting and xenophobic rather than funny! Dentists are terrible comedians!
11:33 February 11, 2012 by joysonabraham
whether the joke is racists or not. Some times when I look out and see people from other countries (almost every where in Germany) i am forced to think. "Who will keep Germany clean and tidy if they were not here". After all Germany is well known for its cleanliness. Though people may always like to attribute this to cleanliness of the citizens. Ofcource its a major fact. Even though everyone puts garbage in the bins. You still need someone to collect and dispose it off.
12:16 February 11, 2012 by Navigator_B
If this were just an isolated stupid performance I might not take it too seriously, but it seems to follow a pattern in how Turks are seen.

The media came up with the name "Döner murders" for the neo Nazi killing of ten people, all but one of them Turkish, even though only two of them sold döner kebabs. The police never carried out a serious investigation because they suspected that the victims were just criminals killed by other foreign criminals.

Now we have this comedy Döner TV with programs called "Döner For One" and "Anne Will Döner" and a presenter whose brother is spending ten years in prison.

In other words, Turkish lives are seen as limited to little more than kebabs and criminality.
12:21 February 11, 2012 by Big L
The whole racism thing all over the world is being over emphasised. I am a South African and I often wonder why race is such a sensitive issue? Why, for example is it OK to say "I don't like Australians" but if I dare to say "I dont like Blacks (or Turks) then hell erupts?

Personally I think it has to do with a deep rooted sense of inferiority....
12:58 February 11, 2012 by Al uk
No matter what one says or does there is always someone who is outraged or offended. Don't these people have anything better to do than sit around complain.
12:59 February 11, 2012 by bugger
@smart2012

"And btw, Germany was rebuilt by major Turkish labour after ww2, as German men were not around... "

What is your source for this? Millî Gazete? Anadolu'da Vakit?

You should be aware that before 1961 not a single Turk has been working in Germany while German women were scraping the war rubble off the streets and helped rebuild their country.
13:03 February 11, 2012 by smart2012
The comments above show to me that in 3-5 years we will have in Germany riots from Turkish people. Integration is not working in Germany. I hope it will not drive a religious war...
13:52 February 11, 2012 by christopheuk25
Quite funny.

Turkey get over yourselves,your making yor selves bigger ar#es than you already are.
14:07 February 11, 2012 by ovalle3.14
Political correctness is a sure sign of underlying racism.
14:12 February 11, 2012 by Asgarli
The point is she is not funny, she's lame :)) You can't compare to Russell Peters or Maz Jobrani. She is just wanna-be Ladykracher

if you want something funny, youtube for Ladykracher -Deutschkurs für türkische Mitbürger
14:24 February 11, 2012 by n230099
Everybody's their own 'race' now. Here in America we have people trying to say that Mexican is a race even though there are blonde blue-eyed Mexicans, Black and Chinese as well as indigenous people that are of that Nationality. Playing the race card so often and capriciously has people rolling their eyes at the notion that everything anyone says is "racist" .
15:38 February 11, 2012 by TexKen
Same problems here in the US. They claim to be African American or Mexican American or even Muslim. Either become a contributing part of the society in which you choose to live or get the heck out and quit winning about not having even more rights than others.
16:07 February 11, 2012 by MaKo
What a terrible thing to do. It's even less funny than the standard Fasching programming.
17:42 February 11, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Navigator_B

So if I will make a similar sketch where I talk about a "PIZZA TV" with a show called "Pizza mit Politiker' instead of a presumably famous show called 'Witze mit Politiker', does it mean that I degrade Italians and claim that they are limited to little more than pizza makers? I would say that's a tad overstretching it. With this attitude, one can say that a nation is presented to be limited to little more than what can fit in a documentary.
20:53 February 11, 2012 by crm114
forensic use of the blue pencil Ed, just like it never happened eh?
21:02 February 11, 2012 by Navigator_B
ChrisRea,

I don't think I've ever come across the cliche of Italians being just a bunch of pizza makers. Even the mafia cliche is not very common. Associating Turks with kebabs is done so often for no apparent reason that it can only be described as stereotyping, or else in a way that only a racist would find funny. 
21:25 February 11, 2012 by MaKo
Srsly, people, can't a bunch of "eschte Deusche" (her words, not mine) people put on funny costumes and sit around in a room getting their belly laughs by degrading Turkish people to musical accompaniment? And televise it? Let's not be so touchy!
22:05 February 11, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Navigator_B

So if you want to make fun of the integration systems, you are not allowed to touch stereotypes, otherwise you are called a racist? Well, then I guess we should ban satire all together. Or we can realise that stereotypes are not necessarily negative (you have to have bad intentions to say that it is a negative fact that Italians love pizza and are good at preparing it).

Again, no joke in the movie posted degrades Turks. They actually poke at the integration systems developed by Germans.

Let's not forget - Ridendo castigat mores.
22:53 February 11, 2012 by Navigator_B
ChrisRea,

You might think that the target of this "satire" is the integration system but the way I see it the target is the Turkish community. I don't think that it was done out of a love for Turkish food.
10:35 February 12, 2012 by raandy
Navigator_B, after rereading your comments I find them well written and your issues and points well taken.

I think you are correct, there is a pattern here. Thanks the eye opener.
11:25 February 12, 2012 by WatchingYou
The Turk-oise joke was funny. The rest was just petty meanness by people who have nothing in their life and can only feel good about themselves by hurting someone else.
14:27 February 12, 2012 by CRPalm
Having lived here many years, I would say, from my experiences, that many Germans are racist or are very prone to stereotyping. but then so do most other nationalities on some level. Sometimes the humor goes over the top but in this case I thought it relatively harmless. Afterall, some of the humor was directed at Germans themselves, especially references to schweinhaxe, etc. Carnival is all about taking the micky out of each other. If Turks want to feel integrated than they will have to bear some of cultural rudeness as well. Personally, I think the Turkish cultural as added a great deal of positive things to Germany. Doesn't mean they are above being poked fun.

I have been to Turkey several times and have had anti-Americanism thrown in my face a few times.

Someone mention they never heard anyone mention Italians as pizza maker. Rubbish. I have often heard reference made to Italians as Pizzeria owners and or mafiosi. Racial slurs are rampant here. But humor takes the tension off and the good thing is we can express our various views about it.
22:45 February 12, 2012 by lordkorner
I want to buy a 5 year old car,a merc, I could buy one from a car dealer who is German, I could also buy one from a Turkish car dealer, both cars are almost identical in price ,km, condition etc, can anyone give me some advice....
09:11 February 13, 2012 by dramoscotch21
I wonder how they would feel if a Turkish person put on a SS Uniform and made fun of Germans calling them all Nazis?? I am sure that would not go over very well. Do unto others and celebrate diversity, don't degrade it. No one deserves to be treated like a second class citizen and everyone deserves to have their culture respected. It is not about being PC, it is about being human, loving, accepting, and tolerant.
08:49 March 28, 2012 by Michael R
A lot of Turks in Germany have a chip on their shoulder and have a bad attitude towards their host country. If you don't believe me then go work in any local secondary school in Berlin.
16:52 March 30, 2012 by blauaugen63
It is ok for the Turks to make fun of Germans, but not the other way around? It isn't like the Germans went to Turkey and made the jokes. How many movies have been made showing Germans as Nazis and calling them Nazis even now if they do not roll over on their back and submit to everyone's demands.

It was funny and the Turks know it. Maybe if there wasn't a Doner cafe on every block it wouldn't be so funny.
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