GERMANY: Hate speech and incitement to violence of a Turkish AKP lawmaker in Neuss

By Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (25.01.2023) – “Just as we won’t give them the right to live in Turkey, we won’t give them the right to live in Germany, either. No matter where they flee in the world, we will destroy the PKK and FETÖ terrorist groups,” AKP MP Mustafa Açıkgöz said in video footage circulating on social media at mid-January, using a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the faith-based movement of Fethullah Gülen as a terrorist organization.

Fethullah Gülen was an imam from 1959 to 1981. He developed the theology of Said Nursi that embraces democratic modernity and Islam. See our report on the Said Nursi movement here. Since 1999, Gülen has lived in self-exile in the United States. He is an opponent to President Erdogan who has repeatedly but vainly asked the US to extradite him. He founded his movement (known as the hizmet, meaning “service” in Turkish), which is a 3-to-6 million strong volunteer-based movement in Turkey and around the world. All Hizmet’s schools, foundations and other entities in Turkey have been closed by the Turkish government following the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt which Erdogan blamed, without any evidence, on Gülen.

The Turkish lawmaker’s remarks came during a meeting in Neuss of the Grey Wolves, which are seen as the paramilitary wing of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP. They were interpreted as a call for violence on German soil.

The Düsseldorf prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling party after the German Foreign Ministry warned the Turkish ambassador saying that “hate speech has no place in Germany” and that what Açıkgöz did during the event in Neuss “must not be repeated.”

“We made clear that foreign election campaign events must be approved by us in advance. If Turkish representatives don’t play by the rules, we must determine the consequences,” the ministry said in a tweet.

A law introduced in 2017 banned non-EU leaders from campaigning on German soil within three months of elections in their country. Foreign officials also need to file a request with the German government to hold any kind of political event in Germany.

Meanwhile, DW on Wednesday said Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the country’s domestic security agency, found the AKP lawmaker’s speech at the Grey Wolves event “worrying.”

The developments are expected to speed up the banning of the Grey Wolves in Germany, whose “violent tendencies” are said to endanger internal security in a recent report by the BfV.

In 2020 France officially banned the Grey Wolves after a center dedicated to the memory of those who died in the mass killings of Armenians during World War I was defaced with graffiti, including the name of the Grey Wolves.

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