Losing Faith in the State: Turks in Germany Fear Racially Motivated Murders
Turkish immigrants in Germany have lost faith in the German state as a result of the murder series allegedly committed by the Zwickau neo-Nazi terror cell, a new study shows. Three-quarters of respondents fear there will be further racially motivated killings.
Revelations about a series of murders allegedly committed by members of the Zwickau neo-Nazi cell, who are believed to have killed nine people of Turkish and Greek descent between 2000 and 2006, shocked Germany. But what do the roughly 2.5 million people of Turkish descent in Germany think about the killing spree, and how has it changed their feelings about Germany?
To answer that question, researchers from the Migration and Politics Research Center at the Hacettepe University in Ankara, the German-Turkish immigration research initiative SEK-POL, and the Berlin research institute Data4U carried out a joint study — and came to some sobering conclusions. Turkish immigrants in Germany, they found out, have lost a considerable degree of their confidence in the German state, with the majority afraid there will be further racially motivated killings.
The authors of the study interviewed a representative sample of 1,058 people of Turkish descent living in Germany aged 15 years and over, between Dec. 5 and Dec. 15. More than half of the people surveyed — 55 percent — believed that the far-right terrorists were protected or even supported by the German state. About one-third were even convinced that there was “extreme” state support for the Zwickau-based neo-Nazis. Only about 21 percent believed there was no state support.
The immigrants’ considerable mistrust of the German state was based largely on the fact that the killings were committed over such a long period of time, the study’s authors explain. “The Turks usually associate Germany with order, organization and very efficient law enforcement agencies,” Murat Erdogan, director of the Migration and Politics Research Center at Hacettepe University, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “For that reason, many of them can’t understand how these murders could have gone unsolved for over 10 years.”
Mistrust was also caused by revelations in the media about mistakes and slip-ups by the authorities during their investigation, such as reports that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, had the group under observation but did not act, Erdogan said. The fact that the investigation into the killing spree was initially based on the assumption that the murders were connected to a “dangerous Turkish mafia organization” in Germany also influenced the poll’s results, he said.
A total of 87 percent of respondents said they were following the news about the alleged far-right murder series, with most of them getting their information from the Turkish media. German authorities can take some comfort in the finding that the large majority of Turkish immigrants — 78 percent — viewed the violence as the excesses of a radical minority and did not associate it with German society as a whole. Less than 7 percent believed that “large segments of the population” shared responsibility for the murders. “I did not expect the results to be so clear-cut,” Erdogan said.