Turks in Berlin ‘Fully Behind’ President Erdogan

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Support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan amongst Turks in Germany is much higher than in Turkey with many expatriates in Berlin saying they fully back the controversial leader.

President Erdoğan narrowly won the constitutional referendum that will abolish the position of prime minister and consolidate the power of the presidency. The vote was not as close among Turks in Germany where two-thirds effectively voted to give Erdoğan more power. Many say they are fully behind the president because he is “strong”  and gives them “pride”, Die Welt reports.

One supporter is Berlin taxi driver Metin Demir who has been living in Germany for 43 years. “Since Erdoğan [came to power] I feel right as a Turk for the first time. He gave me pride,” he said. Demir added he supported Erdoğan so he can reform the country saying: “If you have to ask others, it takes years for something to change.”

Tugba E. and Berna V. are also firm Erdoğan supporters, but being 20 years younger than Demir they represent a different generation. Born and raised in Germany, the pair of young women say Erdoğan is a strong leader.

21-year-old Berna said she approved of Erdoğan’s recent comments telling Turkish women in Europe to have more children because they were the future of Europe. Erdoğan “strengthens us” with his speeches she said.

Tugba, a 23-year-old from Ingolstadt, is a dual citizen of Germany and Turkey and said she voted for Erdoğan in the referendum. “I looked at all sides,” she said claiming that she watched videos for and against Erdoğan online. She said she thought Erdoğan had made Turkey more prosperous and free.

When asked about the arrest of thousands of government workers and journalists after the failed coup last year, Tugba had no problems with Erdoğan’s actions. According to Tugba, the Gülen movement, which Erdoğan blamed for the failed coup, is “a terrorist organisation controlled by America and Israel”.

There are some critics of Erdoğan among Turks in Germany. Many are not overly vocal, claiming they are frightened of the reach of the Turkish government after it was revealed the German-Turkish Islamic Association DITIB was actively spying on critics of the regime.

Under the condition of anonymity, one Turkish woman told Die Welt she was “scared” over the referendum result. “I am most afraid that Turkey will be like Iran,” she said and claimed to be afraid of the return of the death penalty in Turkey. She also said she was concerned other Turks in Germany might be emboldened by the result to harass and threaten Erdoğan’s opponents.