Alexandra Wangler, MYPLACE team member at University of Bremen.
For more information on the MYPLACE project, visit the project’s website: HERE
In our focus group interviews we realized that German citizens with migration background tend to have a different kind of political participation. Most of them eagerly follow the contemporary political events in their country of origin – or rather the country of origin of their parents. Especially the Turkish population in Germany, with 2,4 millions of people the largest foreign group in Germany, has a predominantly in Germany born young generation that knows its country of origin only from narrations and journeys.
After the elucidation of the right-extremist murders in Germany and the uncovered nationalistic network, stronger focus has been put on the question about how racist the German population is. Last week, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution had a symposium about extremism and terrorism in Berlin. As the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit writes this week (http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2012-01/rechtsradikalismus-tuerken), the discussion also concerned the Turkish right-extremist organization “Grey Wolfs” in Germany, who call themselves “ÜLKÜCÜ” (engl.: the idealists). This radical-nationalistic Turkish movement presents itself as an independent youth organization, founded within the circle of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) by Alparslan Türkeş in 1969 in Turkey. The ideology aims at the re-creation of the “Great Turkish Empire”, including all Turkic peoples while overtly instigate against Kurds and Armenians.
In Germany, the “Grey Wolves” are mainly organized in the Federation of Associations of Turkish Democrat Idealists in Europe (“Türk Federasyon”, ADÜTDF). It was founded in 1978 with its head office in Frankfurt am Main. Round 200 cultural-, sports-, youth- and parents- associations in Germany are actively connected to this organization. Since 1999, there is also a student association called ATTKO (Turkish Students and Culture Associations in Germany) that is actively engaged in the mobilization of young people for this movement.
Turkish young people in Germany organize themselves and communicate predominantly in social networks, such as Facebook. The most influential danger accrues from the superficial ideology of the “Grey Wolves” that manifests itself in an own youth culture and a distinctive life style – which renders the entry into the scene much easier.
The experts of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution say that the networks and the activities of the Ülkücü-movement offer an “ostensive political homeland” for the young people. The search for national belonging and for national pride as well as the feeling of exclusion compose all together strong emotions that are addressed by this youth-movement. With their extensive use of national symbols in everyday life, the Turkish youth in Germany stands out as a very homeland-oriented group. It therefore makes sense to have a closer look at the political affinities of young people with migrant background.