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True colors

June 30, 2010

As Germany looks to progress in the World Cup, soccer fans are flying the flag across the country. For one Arab family, however, a giant show of loyalty to the national team has met with far-left activist anger.

Turks Mustafa Cambudak, Fahrettin Hanei and Nevazat Cavan, from left, sit under a German flag
Immigrant communities have been backing GermanyImage: AP

Soccer fans across the country are more jubilant than ever after the German team claimed a place in the quarterfinals with a 4-1 victory over England last Sunday.

With many players on the team having foreign roots, Germany's immigrant communities are also eager to take part with their own display of national pride.

But while so many fans - of so many ethnic descriptions - are keen to share in the national euphoria, not everyone is happy to see the flag flying.

In the Berlin district of Neukoelln, a district dominated by Turkish and Arab immigrant families, Badr Muhammed and his cousin Yusuf Basal have hung a giant German flag - measuring 20 meters (22 yards) by five meters - outside their building.

"My family and I are excited about the German team's World Cup performance," said Muhammed. The cousins are originally from Lebanon and run a small grocery store on the ground floor of the building. Muhammed said his whole family is football crazy, and they're all die-hard supporters of the German team.

"We just thought that we needed to hang up a really big flag to symbolize our support for the team and for a country with which we identify ourselves," he added.

Past associations

A giant flag outside a house
Across the country, the flag is being hung out in prideImage: AP

But displaying national pride in such an extrovert manner has drawn criticism in a country where rallying behind national colors is viewed with contempt by some who associate it with the Third Reich.

Muhammed said he has received threats from German far-left activists, who have tried to tear down the flag.

"They said we shouldn't show the flag in such a conspicuous way because it recalled the Nazi era," he said. "I reject such thinking because the flag for us means that we stand by this country as we were born and raised here. We've become German citizens and we just want to support our national team."

The flag proved popular with passers-by who were asked for their opinion by Deustche Welle. One woman said she saw it as something "quite different" for the neighborhood. A young Turkish man said the flag represented values such as unity, freedom and the rule of law in a country that is truly multicultural.

And for every night that Germany stays in the World Cup, said Muhammed, members of the family plan to stand guard to keep the flag in its place.

Author: Uwe Hessler/rc
Editor: Martin Kuebler