A letter distributed in the German city of Brühl, where many Turkish nationals reside, demanded supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan leave the country.
The letter started with the statement “Those in Germany who love Erdoğan,” and went on to say “We are anxious and distressed by Erdoğan supporters in Germany. Since their beliefs are different from ours, they cannot continue to live with us. We want them to take their families and leave this country.”
“Your president has big plans, you will be doing both himself and yourself a favor by leaving this country,” it continued.
Numerous far-right politicians also called on Turks who backed the Yes campaign to leave Europe and return to Turkey.
Islamophobia and anti-immigrant hate, triggered by the propaganda of far-right and populist parties, is on the rise in Germany.
A mosque in Germany’s city of Leipzig was vandalized with anti-Turkish slogans and insults targeting the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Thursday morning. The attack was the third within a week.
Ninety-one mosques were attacked across Germany in 2016, which was a significant increase from 2015, when there were 75 such attacks.
Germany mosque spray-painted with anti-Turkish slogans
Unknown assailants vandalized a mosque in Germany’s eastern city of Leipzig on Thursday morning, spray-painting the walls with anti-Turkish slogans.Ismail Ozgan, the head of the Eyup Sultan Mosque Association, told Anadolu Agency that a large sign at the entrance of the building was covered in black paint by the assailants, who also scrawled insulting slogans against Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party. It was the third attack in Germany within a week that targeted Turkish mosques and organizations, amid a heated debate in the country about Turkish migrants and Turkey's April 16 referendum on transition to a presidential system. Bekir Altas, secretary general of the Islamic Community of Milli Gorus, one of the largest organizations of the Turkish Muslim community in Germany, called on politicians and media to act responsibly. "The ongoing discussions on the electoral behavior of Turkish migrants at the referendum is creating a hostile climate," Altas said in a press release on Thursday. “Since the announcement of the referendum result, there has been a dramatic increase in attacks targeting Turkish and Muslim organisations,” he added. Approximately 63 percent of Turkish expats in Germany voted in favor of a presidential system in Turkey, while nearly 39 percent voted against. Among the 3 million Turks living in EU’s largest economy, 700,000 went to the polls. German politicians who backed the No campaign argued that big support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his proposal for a presidential system among the expats was a sign that they were not well-integrated.Several far-right politicians even called on Turks who backed the Yes campaign to leave Europe and return to Turkey."This rhetoric is fuelling a hostile climate and driving a wedge between people," Altas warned.On Tuesday night, a mosque in Germany’s southwestern city of Freiburg was targeted by vandals who spray-painted Nazi symbols on the walls of the mosque.Ottoman Sufi Center in Berlin was also targeted by unknown assailants on Sunday, who broke the windows of the place of worship.Germany, a country of 81.8 million people, has the second largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the four million Muslims in Germany, three million are of Turkish origin.The country has witnessed growing Islamophobia and anti-immigrant hate in recent years, triggered by the propaganda of far-right and populist parties, which have exploited fears regarding the refugee crisis.In 2016, 91 mosques were attacked across Germany, which showed a significant increase in anti-Muslim violence. In 2015, 75 such attacks were reported, and in 2014 there were nearly 60 attacks that targeted mosques.
Europe banned Turkish Yes campaigners in referendum
Campaigning in Europe for the recent constitutional referendum in Turkey was marked by controversy as Turkish ministers in favor of the proposed changes were prevented from giving speeches.Members of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party repeatedly complained that EU governments displayed a bias towards those campaigning against the proposals, which centered on switching from a parliamentary to a presidential system.According to evidence gathered by Anadolu Agency correspondents across Europe, at least 25 Yes campaign events were banned in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Belgium.The same countries allowed No campaigners to hold rallies, some attended by supporters of the PKK, a banned terrorist organization in the EU, as well as representatives of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).The bans affected events where members of the Justice and Development (AK) Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had intended to participate.The Netherlands in particular earned the ire of Yes campaigners by refusing to grant permission for Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s plane to land ahead of a speaking engagement in Rotterdam on March 11.Later, Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was prevented from entering the city’s Turkish consulate and was then escorted to the German border by Dutch police.The incident sparked protests by Turkish-Dutch supporters who were subjected to dog and baton attacks by police.However, days later the Dutch authorities allowed a No rally to take place that included Tugba Hezer Ozturk, a HDP lawmaker wanted in Turkey.A month earlier, Metin Feyzioglu, president of the Turkish Bar Association, held a meeting at a Rotterdam hotel to push for a No vote.He was accompanied by Keklik Yucel, a lawmaker from the Labor Party, the junior party in the then Dutch government.In Germany, home to the largest Turkish diaspora, local authorities banned several Yes rallies on security grounds but allowed No meetings.Permission revokedIn early March, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag’s planned meeting with Turkish community members in the southern town of Gaggenau was cancelled after local authorities revoked permission at short notice.Gaggenau council claimed the venue lacked adequate facilities and did not have sufficient car parking.Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci’s planned events in North Rhine-Westphalia were also cancelled after local authorities intervened and venue managers reneged on agreements.Cavusoglu was not allowed to give a speech in Hamburg and could only hold a meeting at the city’s Turkish consulate building on March 8.He later criticised the German authorities for pressuring the owners of conference halls in Hamburg into refusing him a place to address supporters.On March 14, Saarland imposed a general ban on Turkish political rallies. This was followed by a ban on political activity by a senior AK Party official in Lower Saxony.Mehdi Eker, the party’s deputy chairman, had planned a two-day visit to Hannover to meet Turkish expatriates.Ahead of the April 16 referendum, German authorities blocked nearly two dozen planned rallies by politicians in favor of constitutional change in Turkey.Among the No campaign events held in Germany during the run-up to the vote was a 9,000-strong march in Frankfurt on March 19, during which PKK posters and flags were openly displayed despite a federal ban on the use of terrorist symbols in public places.These included images of the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, whose picture was identified by the Interior Ministry on March 2 in an updated list of prohibited PKK symbols.In Belgium, two MHP meetings in Antwerp city were cancelled by the city’s mayor over security concerns.However, on March 20 a No campaign event was held amid Newroz spring celebrations.Security concernsAnother event featuring Casvusoglu -- this time in Switzerland -- was cancelled by hotel management in early March.On March 23, the minister met Turkish NGOs, accompanied by Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter.Earlier that month, AK Party lawmaker Hursit Yildirim had intended to attend a Yes event in Aaargau canton before police cancelled it for security reasons.Swiss police cancelled a March 18 event in Basel to celebrate the 102nd anniversary of the World War I Gallipoli campaign, saying it could disrupt public order.Former Energy Minister Taner Yildiz was barred from a book introduction program on March 10 in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg after the municipality said it was concerned about political speeches.Austria also cancelled three meetings planned by AK Party lawmaker Muhammet Mufit Aydin in Linz, Herzogenburg and Wiener Neustadt over security concerns.Fellow AK Party deputy Yusuf Basar’s program in Vienna, planned for March 12, had to be abandoned after a venue could not be found.Another ruling party lawmaker, Resat Petek, was forced to hold his speaking program in a restaurant. The restaurant owner was later investigated by police.Singer Ugur Isilak, a former AK Party lawmaker, had planned to hold a concert in Austria on March 25 but this was cancelled due to a lack of venue.Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz perhaps set the tone on Feb. 27 when he said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not welcome to campaign in Austria.Despite this, No campaigners were free to operate in Austria. CHP Deputy Chairman Levent Gok paid a two-day visit to Vienna as part of his campaigning efforts, meeting parliamentary officials, business figures and civil society representatives.HDP lawmaker Faysal Sariyildiz, who is wanted in Turkey, made a speech in the Ternitz region in February.