Ayşegül Karakülhancı / Cologne
We have learned, thanks to a government response to a question from Left Party Federal Parliament member Sevim Dağdelen to Merkel’s government last month, that the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe (ATİB), founded by the nationalists, will not be excluded from the German Islamic Conference. In the same government response, it was stated that the growth of associations attributed to political Islamism was carefully monitored by the Federal Ministry of Interior.
According to the annual report of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, there are 11,000 far-right Turks in Germany. This means that there are at least 11,000 organized people in Germany who are anti-Semitic and hostile toward Armenians, Kurds, Alevis, Yazidis, leftists and whoever criticizes President Erdoğan.
They are not only organized in the far-right ‘idealist’ associations. As we already know, Metin Külünk, a former deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has provided financial and logistical support to the now-banned Osmanen Germania association. Finally, exiled mafia boss Sedat Peker admitted that through Külünk he had sent large sums of money several times to the far-right associations and similar organizations in Germany. The German government, which should take all of this seriously, prefers to close an eye to these groups, which are enemies of the German Constitution and subordinates of Erdoğan. The German government obviously still prefers to maintain dialogue with these formations.
Last Wednesday, journalist Erk Acarer was attacked by three men in the courtyard of his Berlin home. German security forces have not yet found out who was behind the assault. However, Acarer suspects that it was Erdoğan supporters who had attacked him based on the previous threats he had received. We have reason to think there is evidence to Acarer’s suspicions. These associations and organizations have been linked to several previous threats. We also know that thousands of people affiliated with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) are in Germany and Europe. Since 2016, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), affiliated with Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), has been known to send information to Ankara about critics of Erdoğan and critics of the AKP government. It is also believable after reviewing their overseas operations they have conducted in recent years that the Erdoğan regime has continuously expanded its influence abroad.
Anyone who opposes Erdoğan and his government is either being attacked or threatened. Green’s deputy Cem Özdemir, Left Party Federal deputy Helin Evrim Sommer, academic Burak Çopur, exiled journalists in Germany, Can Dündar, Hayko Bağdat, Kurdish journalist Fehim Işık are just some of the people who receive regular death threats.
These threats are not limited to Germany. For example, Austrian politician Berivan Aslan has been living under police protection since Ö. Yılmaz handed himself over to the Austrian police last December and claimed that he was assigned by MİT to kill her.
In Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy, anywhere in the EU, anybody who opposes Erdoğan is either threatened or attacked in some way. The strangest thing is that the authorities of these countries do not take these threats - coordinated via Ankara - seriously enough. Although Erk Acarer was a journalist who received threats, the German police did not propose providing protection.
European governments did not take any measures against threats and attacks against Turkish dissidents in Europe. On the contrary, they are providing billions of euros either via the Refugee Deal or aid and funds provided within the accession process to the EU. They are given to Turkey under the AKP and Erdoğan rule where democracy and rule of law are visibly declining.
The EU has allocated 3.19 billion euros to Turkey between 2014 and 2020. Between 2021 and 2027, 14.2 billion euros are expected to be paid to Turkey and six other candidate countries.
Politicians from almost every party, including the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) or the Greens, may have some form of contact with the ‘idealists,’ which could be deliberate or not. We also know that certain lawmakers sometimes participate in organizations of this far-right movement.
While France and Austria have banned these associations and their emblems, Germany only monitors the ‘idealists’ and their associations, but has not banned them. In November last year, the debate regarding a ban to be introduced to Turkish ‘idealist’ associations in Germany was put on the agenda of the Federal Parliament. The Merkel government accepted a multi-party motion by the CDU, SPD, Greens, Left and FDP. After a long investigation and review, it will be decided which associations this ban will cover. However, it is clear that this ban will not be imposed by the CDU-SPD government. The issue of whether to ban associations affiliated with the nationalist movement in Germany is now up to the new government after elections on September 26.
The more aggressive Erdoğan becomes in Turkey, the more aggressive his supporters in Europe are becoming. They increase their threats and aggressions. To assume that they have this courage only as a result of Ankara would be half of the truth.
The leaders of many countries, especially the German government and officials, condone these attacks and threats while keeping in mind that Ankara keeps the refugees in the country. Governments that choose to turn a blind eye to this increasing violence against any opposition journalist or politician in Germany or any other European country will be responsible in the first place.