Germany has many Muslim residents, the majority of whom are of Turkish origin and citizenship. This article is a must-read if you want to understand what’s happening in Turkey right now and how it affects Germany:
The evening’s events exposed the deep divisions in Turkish society that have been created by the constitutional referendum campaign. President Erdogan is seeking to tighten his grip on power by making himself head of government in addition to his current role as head of state. But it is by no means clear that he will get his way. Which is why he is also doing all he can to secure the vote of Turkish citizens living overseas, thus making the conflict over Turkey’s future into a German conflict as well — one which is becoming a threat, and deepening rifts within German society as well.
On the one hand, the Turkish community is perhaps more divided than it has ever been in the 50 years since Turks began coming to Germany as guest workers. On the other, German skepticism of their Turkish neighbors has grown of late. How is it possible, they wonder, that so many young people who grew up here venerate a man who is seeking to erode those democratic values of which Germans are so proud? Conversely, many of those with Turkish roots wonder why Germans still see them as Muslim aliens, even if they are cosmopolitan, successful and perfectly integrated. Why are the group’s achievements so rarely highlighted?
We certainly have our problems with immigration and immigrants, and questions of citizenship and assimilation. Birthright citizenship is another bone of contention. But this article illustrates the problems inherent in having an immigration policy that favors the importantion of workers from other countries that differ greatly in terms of culture, and in not having birthright citizenship. It creates a huge group of people within their new country who have daul allegiance (or even primary allegiance to another country), and offers an even greater incentive for them to fail to assimilate:
Around 3 million people with Turkish roots live in the country. If they have a problem, Germany does too. Every political tremor in Turkey triggers aftershocks in Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart. When the Turkish military launches a putsch to topple Erdogan, tens of thousands of people in Germany likewise sit glued to their televisions out of concern for Turkey’s future…
The atmosphere, particularly on the radical fringes of the two camps, is becoming more hostile to the point that German security officials have now become concerned that the conflict could erupt in violence in Germany as well. “The fault lines between the various camps in Turkey are mirrored in Germany,” says Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. There is, in short, a part of Germany that is deeply affected by Erdogan.
You might say the solution is obvious: don’t import so many people from a country such as Turkey in the first place. If you do, be aware of the minefield of cultural conflicts you will be entering. But it’s too late for that for Germany (and if our federal courts have anything to say about it, it may be too late for us as well).
Many AKP [Erdogan] supporters, though, have a different understanding of democracy — despite their integration in Germany and lessons on politics and civics in school. If the majority of a population decides to place its faith in a single party and a single head of state, then other countries simply have to accept that, many believe. The lessons of German history — the reflex most Germans have to think back to 1933 when hearing such arguments — are not as deeply rooted among all of those with Turkish roots. They view the separation of powers as largely unnecessary because they believe that Erdogan’s patriotism will lead him to act in Turkey’s best interests. Plus, those in Germany who watch pro-government broadcasters from Turkey have difficulty separating the propaganda from reality. Because they live in Germany, they have little experience with the more ominous elements of Erdogan’s rule.
I would say that lack of historical knowledge, as well as ignorance about the importance of separation of powers (and of equality of the branches of government), is not limited to Germany or its immigrants. I observe something similar as a general trend in this country, particularly among the young.