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Turkish scholar warns of racist '19th century' views

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Turkish scholar warns of racist '19th century' views
Photo: DPA
10:28 CEST+02:00
A leading Turkish scholar has likened elements of the latest German debate on integration to racist 19th century notions of “primitive” immigrants who breed uncontrollably.

The new head of the centre for Turkish Studies and Integration Research at Essen University, Haci Halil Uslucan, said the Sarrazin debate appeared to have flushed out old ideas about race that did not belong in the 21st century.

“Take the now-revived discussion of migrants' ‘high fertility,'" he said. "Debate about it is like the 19th century racist discussions about ‘primitives' who could not control their drives,” he told Wednesday's edition of daily Der Tagesspiegel.

His remarks came as Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger warned of a rising fear of Islam and the view that “Muslims and their religion are regarded as threatening.”

“It would be wrong to see it this way: here, the Western, enlightened and liberal Europeans, there the fundamentalist migrants,” she said on Wednesday at the opening of the German Legal Congress.

Uslucan said that people from poorer rural areas typically had larger families for social reasons, yet such clear-headed analysis was missing from much of the debate in Germany.

“It's important to note that children in rural communities have an important role as carers for the elderly. This mentality doesn't change immediately with a change in the area, such as with migration to a country with publicly provided geriatric care. This is just an example of how we don't question what we see on the streets.”

Meanwhile media debate was stuck in the 1980s, he added. Immigration was a long-term process and an inevitable one.

“I see little appreciation for migration as a significant historical process in which we are all involved,” Uslucan said.

It was unrealistic to expect foreigners to lose their “foreignness” within 10 to 15 years – as many German observers seemed to expect – when, for example, eastern and western Germans had still not shaken off their own differences even 20 years after reunification.

The Local/dw

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