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Expert Warns of ‘Turkish PEGIDA’ as Erdogan Increases Influence in Germany

A German political scientist has warned President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may create a Turkish nationalist street movement in Germany akin to the anti-Islamisation PEGIDA movement.

German, Turkish origin political scientist Burak Copur has warned politicians of the growing tide of support for Islamist president Erdoğan could lead to Germans of Turkish descent creating a violent Turkish nationalist movement, reports Die Welt. 

Reports have likened the potential movement to Germany’s PEGIDA strolling group, which are not violent but do meet weekly to demand political change and to protest the Islamisation of Germany.

Copur is not alone in his assessment of the situation. In July, Greens leader Cem Özdemir warned of the influence of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) which he claimed took their funding and their orders directly from Erdoğan’s Justice and Development (AKP) party. A similar statement was made the month before by integration commissioner Aydan Özoguz.

Mr. Özdemir was one of a dozen Turkish-German MPs who were threatened earlier this year after parliament voted to recognise the Armenian genocide. He claimed that he had received threats from Turkish nationalists, one email saying: “We will find you anywhere.”

Mr. Copur maintains that Germany needs to have an active dialogue with Turkish supporters of the Islamist Turkish president. “We must careful that we do not drive German Turks in the arms of Erdoğan,” he said.

However, according to Copur the main obstacle to dialogue is the lack of support for democratic and liberal values among Turkish Germans. He asserted that what was needed was a reinforcement of “the liberal and democratic forces in the Turkish community”.

Ever since the failed coup in Turkey earlier this year there have been conflicts between Turkish expats and other groups viewed as enemies of Erdoğan and the AKP. In the immediate aftermath of the failed coup, Turks took to the streets in major cities in Germany, as well as in the capital of neighbouring Austria, in demonstration of support for Erdoğan.

In Cologne alone, tens of thousands of Turkish Germans flooded the streets in support of the president and the AKP. The only significant reaction from German politicians came from the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) which had highlighted the problems of integration in their party manifesto.

Austria, meanwhile, was more robust in their criticisms of pro-Erdoğan supporters in Vienna. Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, along with Freedom Party (FPÖ) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, denounced the protests and told resident Turks that they should either be loyal to Austria or leave.

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