At Home in a “Foreign” Country | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 19.12.2001
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At Home in a “Foreign” Country

A new study shows that Germany’s Turkish people are well-integrated into their adoptive country. And not only that. They also quite like it here.


Loyalty to Germany prevails among the country's Turkish population.

Turkish people in Germany feel at home, despite occasional hostility from the general public. This is the result of a study released by the conservative Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin on Tuesday.

The organization surveyed 326 people, which included both Turkish residents and German citizens of Turkish origin. It was the first extensive face-to-face survey taken in Turkish households in Germany.

"A high percentage has built up a stable emotional relationship to Germany," said the Foundation’s Dr Stephan Eisel. "They see this country as their home."

From a guest worker to a loyal resident

With over two million people, Germany’s Turkish population is by far the largest minority group in the country. In addition, some 500,000 Germans of Turkish descent live here.

The first Turkish workers arrived in Germany some 40 years ago. They came to do the jobs no one wanted and became the unsung heroes of the post-war economic miracle.

Until the 1970s, they lived quite solitary lives. But this has apparently changed. The Konrad Adenauer study shows that almost half of them feel "fairly strongly or strongly connected" to Germany and demonstrate "a great loyalty" to their adoptive country.

Fans of democracy

The bulk of those surveyed (80 percent) are strong supporters of democracy and value its freedoms. Eisel said there were no indications of Islamic anti-democratic tendencies. The contrary was actually the case.

Eisel said that Germany’s social system has a "significantly higher" level of acceptance among Turkish people than among Germans. Only 8 percent view these structures as unjust, compared to almost half of the German population.

Although 60 percent of those surveyed had experienced discrimination because of their foreign appearance, they did not attribute these experiences to the German social system.

The attachment to their adoptive country even goes so far that practically every second person surveyed said they would defend Germany if it should be attacked by an Islamic nation, such as Libya or Iraq. In comparison, similar surveys taken among Germans in the new eastern states showed only 42 percent willing to defend their homeland.

Turkish does not mean militant

The survey might help the German public cool down from the country’s hot debate on militant Islamic organizations. Under its new anti-terrorist law, Germany last week cracked down on the Cologne-based Kaplan group, a radical Islamic network suspected of inciting violence and terrorist activities. The group propagates the violent overthrow of the Turkish government and the establishment of an Islamic nation modeled on Iran.

"Especially in view of the current debate on extremist and fundamental Turkish organizations in Germany, it is to be emphasized that most Turkish people in Germany are greatly loyal to our democratic state," the Konrad Adenauer study concluded.

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