Turks in Germany mourn loss

Hope turned to sadness for Germany's huge Turkish minority on Wednesday as their team was denied a place in the finals of the Euro 2008 football championship by none other than their host country.

Turks in Germany mourn loss
Photo: dpa

But the atmosphere remained mostly peaceful as many of the country’s nearly three million Turkish supporters vowed to back Germany all the way in Sunday’s final against either Spain or Russia.

“Of course the Turks are disappointed tonight but we will all come together and watch the game on Sunday and course we will all be rooting for Germany,” 44-year-old Harry Memmer told AFP in a Berlin bar packed with supporters from both teams.

“Naturally we are sad but of course we will be backing Germany,” echoed

26-year-old Guerkan in Berlin’s main Turkish district Kreuzberg, nicknamed the city’s “Little Istanbul.”

At half-time the sides were evenly matched, with Ugur Boral putting Turkey ahead on 22 minutes before Bastian Schweinsteiger levelled the scores four minutes later.

After the break one more goal apiece had them level-pegged four minutes from the end, but Philipp Lahm’s spectacular late strike sealed the game and shattered Turkey’s dreams of a first ever European Championship final.

Turks first came to Germany in the 1950s as “Gastarbeiter” or temporary workers, but large numbers stayed and brought over their families, making them Germany’s largest minority today.

Thousands of extra police were deployed across the country to ensure that the mix of rival fans, beer and summer sunshine did not become too volatile before, during and after the match.

In the capital, home to 120,000 people of Turkish origin among a population of 3.4 million, authorities said 1,500 police including reinforcements from four other states would be on the streets.

Police said that between 20 and 30 vandals attacked two Turkish kebab shops after the game in the eastern city of Dresden and that a small number of people had been injured inside.

“It doesn’t matter who wins … The atmosphere will stay good whatever happens,” 22-year-old German fan Carmen told AFP at Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin before the match.

The left-leaning Tageszeitung said it was odd Germans should wonder why the nearly three million Turks and people of Turkish descent in their midst supported Turkey and not their country of residence.

“Immigrants of Turkish origin represent the biggest group, that is why they stand out,” it said. “They are not that different from other minorities — certainly not in their soccer patriotism.”

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble saw the match as a test of the peaceful, but sometimes tense, relations between Germans and Turks living in the country.

“Let not only the best team win on Wednesday but also German-Turkish friendship,” he wrote in the Berlin tabloid B.Z.

“I am not that interested in football but when Turkey plays it’s different,” 16-year-old Rabya said in Kreuzberg.

But she added that a German victory was not the end of the world.

“I am German too,” she said.


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