• Germany's news in English
German Turkish community split by unrest after coup plot
Pro-Erdogan protesters in Berlin. Photo: DPA

German Turkish community split by unrest after coup plot

AFP · 22 Jul 2016, 16:07

Published: 22 Jul 2016 16:07 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"All those who criticise Erdogan are immediately considered supporters of Gülen or the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party]," said a leader of the opposition Greens party, Cem Özdemir, himself the son of a Turkish guest worker.

Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the USA, has been blamed by Ankara for the coup

"Erdogan may be able to do what he wants in Turkey, and that's bad enough, but he can't do it in Germany," said Özdemir.

The failed coup against Erdogan has stoked tensions in Germany's three-million strong Turkish community, prompting demonstrations and threats that have put the authorities on edge.

After days of purges amid a crackdown on suspects and Erdogan's rivals in Turkey, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere issued a stern warning to partisans among the world's largest Turkish diaspora.

"We don't want these kinds of conflicts to play out in Germany with violence in the streets," he told ZDF public television.

A member of the Berlin state legislature, Erol Özkaraca, a vocal Erdogan critic, said he had been subject to taunts and slurs.

"Liar, traitor, Gülen supporter - it's all a lot of rubbish," the Social Democrat told AFP.

Ercan Karakoyun, the head of the Foundation for Dialogue and Education, an organisation with close links to Gülen, has faced even more fervent abuse.

"It is threatening to see how there has been a campaign against the Gülen movement in Germany conducted with rumours and conspiracy theories," he told the Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Erdogan enjoys strong support among the 1.55 million Turkish citizens living in Germany. During the Turkish election last November, his AKP garnered around 60 percent of the vote, an even stronger share than in Turkey.

And although many were born in Germany or lived here for decades, many ethnic Turks say they feel more engaged with political life in Turkey.

"With his propaganda and media presence, [Erdogan] creates the impression that he has made Turkey strong," Özkaraca said.

"They [Turkish immigrants] don't have a sense of belonging to German society. We have not managed to integrate here, which leads people to identify with their country of origin."

Erdogan has recognised the importance of his base in Germany and even held stadium-sized campaign rallies in recent years in cities such as Berlin and Düsseldorf

'Down with traitors'

The BDK federation representing 15,000 police officers cautioned there was a "very, very large" potential for the situation to explode.

"All Erdogan has to do is snap his fingers to get people to confront each other in the streets in a very emotional way," its vice president Sebastian Fiedler told ZDF.

In the days after the uprising, Turks in Germany received appeals on social media to denounce suspected Gülen supporters, including a hotline number to call at the Turkish president's offices, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

Story continues below…

In the western city of Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday, 150 people loyal to Erdogan stormed a cafe popular with Gülen backers, breaking a window and scuffling with patrons.

And mosques with links to the Turkish government hung placards reading "Down with traitors to the fatherland".

During the night of the attempted coup, about 3,000 people massed in front of the Turkish embassy in Berlin, waving Turkish flags and holding aloft pictures of Erdogan.

Local media reports said members of a Turkish far-right organisation, the "Grey Wolves", and other nationalist groups joined the rally as more than 200 police officers kept the peace.

A second pro-Erdogan demonstration in the German capital went off without incident Saturday while a third, expected to draw 15,000 people, will be held in the western city of Cologne at the end of the month, police said.

Nearly all of Germany's Turks are descendants of a "guest worker" programme launched in the 1960s to bring manpower to then West Germany.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd