[FT] Turkish rifts stir up Germany as referendum nears

Guy Chazan, Financial Times, 10.04.2017

It’s a sunny spring day in the German town of Mönchengladbach, and the Turkish cafés are full. For Mürvet Öztürk and her whistle-stop No campaign, it represents a happy hunting ground. Wherever she hears Turkish being spoken in the ethnically diverse city of 255,000 people, Ms Öztürk pounces. “Erdogan wants to change the system — for good,” she says, thrusting “Nein!” leaflets into people’s hands and piling them on shop counters, bars and tabletops. “We have to stop one-man rule!”

Ms Öztürk, a member of parliament in nearby Hessen, is targeting the 1.4m German Turks who are eligible to vote in Sunday’s Turkish referendum. Her aim: to persuade them to reject constitutional changes that will hand more power to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man she says wants to turn Turkey into a dynastic sultanate. She has organised convoys of buses and ride-shares for No voters to local polling stations and tirelessly argued her case on TV talk shows.

It has made her a hate figure among Turkish nationalists. “Whore” and “Zionist stooge” are some of the epithets thrown at her on social media. “Don’t open your door to this traitor,” the pro-government newspaper Sabah warned its readers online.

On the streets of Mönchengladbach, too, the reception can be cool. A waitress called Ayten waves her away: “I’m an absolute Yes voter,” she says. A male colleague says it doesn’t matter what he does — “they’ll rig the results anyway.”

But at the Taeglich restaurant, a Kurdish businessman who gives his name as Bilen tells Ms Öztürk he will definitely vote against the move to extend the president’s power. And he has some contemptuous words for German Turks who back Mr Erdogan. “They’re as bad as the Germans who supported Hitler in the 1930s,” he says. “They have no idea what kind of monster they’re creating.”


Zum vollständigen Artikel HIER