Turkish FM criticizes German minister for using ‘Islamist terrorist’

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who is currently in Germany on a five-day visit, has criticized German Federal Interior Minister Hans Peter Friedrich for using the term “Islamist terrorists” during a meeting on Friday evening, when the German minister said his government is fighting against every kind of terrorist, including racists and Islamist terrorists.

(Photo: AA)

(Photo: AA)

Davutoğlu interrupted the minister’s speech when he mentioned “Islamist terrorists,” and said: “One minute, I have never used the term ‘Christian terrorist’ even though the neo-Nazi killers [who are accused of killing eight Turks and one Greek] are Christians. You can’t say ‘Islamist terrorist.’ Have we been using ‘German racists,’ following the incidents [murders of immigrants]?” and added that he can define the murders as racist killings and acts by a neo-Nazi organization, but does not call the killers Christian terrorists.

When the German minister said they could use the phrase Islamic terrorism to refer to groups such as al-Qaeda, Davutoğlu responded, “Yes, we can call al-Qaeda or the Baader-Meinhof gang terrorist organizations, but we can’t use the terms, Islamist or Christian terrorists.”

Before meeting with Friedrich on Friday in Berlin, Davutoğlu met with the families of some of the Turkish citizens who were killed by a neo-Nazi crime gang, and during his meeting with the interior minister, Davutoğlu reiterated Turkey’s support of the victims’ families.

Friedrich said the interior ministers of Germany’s states will gather to assess the security system in Germany and implied that changes would be made to the procedure of detecting crime in the German police force. “We are also closely watching the case and investigating it from different angles. We have many clues on the murders and we will reopen the cases of unresolved murders in the 1990s,” said Friedrich, and underlined that the police had recovered significant evidence in the burnt-out mobile home, in which two members of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) — the organization that carried out the murders of eight Turks and a Greek national between 2000 and 2007– were found dead and a third handed herself in to police.

Police at the beginning of November discovered that a group of neo-Nazis were responsible for the killing of the eight Turks and a Greek national, when 36-year-old Beate Zschäpe, who is suspected of founding and belonging to the NSU with two other men, Uwe Bohnhardt (34) and Uwe Mundlos (38), turned herself in to police.

Zschäpe is further alleged to have set fire to a house used by the group in an effort to destroy evidence. Police accidentally uncovered the neo-Nazi cell when they were recovering the bodies of two men who were believed to have committed suicide in the house.

The German minister said some of the documents had not been destroyed in the fire, and added that a team of 420 experts had been formed to investigate the case and work on the documents. “We are deeply sorry for the families of the victims,” said the interior minister.

Davutoğlu stated that the statements of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff were very positive and give hope that the case will be solved. The investigation must be pursued to the end, he noted.

The German police’s attitude toward the families of the victims only worsened their psychological and emotional state during the investigation of the murders, according to the Turkish foreign minister. “It is unacceptable for the victims’ relatives to be accused of committing the murders after losing a relative. An 11-year-old-boy had a DNA test 10 times before being accused of killing his father. Or in another case, one of the women [whose husband was killed] was accused of killing her husband after being told her husband had been unfaithful,” said Davutoğlu, speaking out against the way the murders had been investigated. He criticized the mainstream perception of Turkish immigrants, pointing out the absurdity that there is only one type of Turk who is believed to act in the same way regardless of time and space. The perception of Turks must be changed, he noted.

“Nobody considered neo-Nazis [were behind the murders] and focused on the Turks being the potential perpetrators behind their fathers, brothers and children’s murders. To make matters worse, one police officer told a family that they could do nothing to solve the murders,” Davutoğlu said, adding that the Turkish state will provide every kind of support to the families and will grant scholarships to their children.

Before having separate meetings with President Wulff, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Hannelore Kraft, the minister-president of North-Westphalia, Davutoğlu warned Turkish civil society groups based in Germany against racist attacks following the deepening economic crisis in the foreseeable future, which could result in a rise of xenophobia and racism, in an address to these groups at the Berlin Turkish House on Saturday.

Davutoğlu said any racist incident will be recorded by Turkish consulates and promised that when a racist attack against Turks takes place he will tell his German counterpart and other officials. From now on, he said, in the event of an incident, Turkish consulates will go to Turkish immigrants before German officials.



04 December 2011, Sunday / BÜLENT KENEŞ, BERLIN