When does nationalism become ultra-nationalism?

Right-wing extremism

According to Kemal Bozay, the right-wing extremist Turkish movement of the "gray wolves" has gained more popularity in Germany in recent years: the wolves propagate racism in the guise of ethnic nationalism and carry out conflicts from Turkey in Germany. It is hounded against leftists and alleged "non-Turks" such as Armenians and Kurds.

A hand shows the "wolf salute" of the gray wolves on April 10, 2016 in Munich (Bavaria) during a demonstration in the city center. Gray wolves is the name given to members of the right-wing extremist Turkish party of the Nationalist Movement (Milliyetci Hareket Partisi, MHP). (& copy dpa)

The current political developments and conflicts in Turkey are also triggering tensions among migrants of Turkish origin in Germany. The influence of Turkish right-wing extremist and nationalist movements in Germany has also increased further. These movements are known as "Ülkücü"which, when translated into German, simply means "idealism", but is actually to be understood as a right-wing extremist ideology exaggerating the Turkish nation with an emphasis on Islamic values. Their symbol is the "gray wolf" (Bozkurt), which comes from an old Turkish myth and symbolizes the militancy of the movement. Several thousand young people were trained in paramilitary training camps in the 1960s and 1970s under the symbol of the howling "gray wolf". Your great ideal is that "Turan", a Greater Turkish Empire and the elimination of political opponents. [1] But what history, ideology and content are hidden behind these groups?

Activities of the gray wolves in Germany

In Germany, since the migration movements in the 1960s and 1970s, numerous Turkish right-wing extremist associations came into being, which came together in 1978 under the umbrella organization ADÜTF (Turkish Federation of Idealist Associations in Germany, now known as Türk Fedarasyon). In the course of the political entanglements, Turkish right-wing nationalist associations such as ATB (European-Turkish Union) and ATIB (Turkish Islamic Union Europe) have emerged, which see themselves more as Islamic-oriented wings of the "gray wolves". Nationwide, Türk Federasyon, ATIB and ATB jointly maintain around 303 locations and, with at least 18,500 members, are the strongest right-wing extremist organizations in Germany [2] - even ahead of the NPD with around 5,000 members.

Part of the successful concept of these umbrella organizations is that the local member associations have often been able to establish themselves as Turkish self-help organizations and mosque communities. They have an influence on cultural and parents' associations, business associations, youth groups, football clubs and mosques - and thus on the social life of many people of Turkish origin in this country. In this way, these groups spread nationalist ideologies and try to gain influence, especially among young people with an immigrant background. This is a racism that postulates a unity of people and nation - detached from citizenship and also lived in "exile from the motherland" - and represents a form of ideology of inequality in the immigration society. Above all, a Turkish nationalism is propagated here, which manifests itself both historically and politically in the form of cultural racism. According to this ideology, all people living in Turkey, regardless of their affiliation, are defined as Turks and other cultural and national identities are negated. When the Gray Wolves in Turkey started a campaign under the motto "Ya Sev ya terk et" (Either you love it or you leave it) in the mid-1990s, they made a strong reference to this cultural racism.

Currently, the Gray Wolf ideology in Turkey is represented by two parties, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP - Milliyetci Hareket Partisi) and the Great Unity Party (BBP - Büyük Birlik Partisi). Also in the environment of the ruling Justice and Progress Party (AKP - Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi), there is evidence of closeness to the tradition of the gray wolves (e.g. through the AKP-affiliated youth organization Osmanli Ocaklari).

The Erdoğan government reacted to the failed coup of July 15, 2016 in Turkey with a new policy of repression and a hunt for Gülen supporters. There was also increased mobilization in Germany: Thousands of people demonstrated in Cologne, and in Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen and other cities there were escalations against Kurdish institutions and educational associations close to Gülen. Gray wolves also took part in the demonstrations. In Duisburg, the Turkish right-wing nationalist rocker and boxing club "Turan e.V." held a provocative demonstration on March 26, 2016 under the motto "We support the fight against terrorism by the Turkish security authorities", in which 400 people took part. Following the Bundestag resolution on Armenia, politicians who approved the resolution were threatened by Turkish nationalists. The influence of the right-wing extremist movements cannot be explained solely by the framework conditions in the Federal Republic of Germany. These structures are at the same time shaped by a political line or ideology that is determined in "mother country Turkey".

Gray wolves in Germany, as of November 2017. ( Graphic as PDF for download) (& copy bpb)



History and origin of the gray wolves

The ideological and historical basis of Turkish right-wing extremism is formed by Turkish nationalism and Turanism, which arose in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. The thought leaders of Turkish nationalism and Turanism are among others Ziya Gökalp, Hüseyin Nihal Atsız, Fethi Tevetoğlu and Rehabilitation Oğuz Türkkan. [3] After a multi-party system was introduced in Turkey in 1946, it was formed under the leadership of the former officer Alparslan Turkis 1961 the Nationalist Movement Party MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi). From 1965 to 1980, Turkish right-wing extremism under the MHP became a fascist mass movement. [4] During this period, pogroms and attacks in Maraş, Çorum, and Malatya were attributed to MHP politicians and gray wolves; Union officials, socialists, teachers and academics as well as leading representatives of the student movement fell victim to the nationalist movement. Also Mehmet Ali Agca, who committed the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, was a member of the Gray Wolves. [5] After the death of the Führer Turks In 1997 the MHP surrendered Devlet Bahçeli a more moderate demeanor and thus achieved a large following - even if new splits are currently to be foreseen.

Gray Wolf ideology and demeanor

In the elections to the National Assembly in November 2015, the MHP surmounted the electoral threshold of 10 percent, which is very high by international standards, with 11.9 percent. In 1992 the "Big Unity Party BBP" (Büyük Birlik Partisi), which presents itself more as a radical nationalist-Islamist movement, split off from the MHP. On the one hand, the MHP has distinguished itself from the ruling party AKP for years, but on the other hand has repeatedly entered into strategic partnerships with it and recently worked with it on relevant issues such as the approval of the constitutional referendum. The starting point of the political ideology of the MHP is an idealistic nationalism. This includes racism against "non-Turkish" sections of the population, for example Kurds and Armenians. The focus is also on a variety of propaganda against pluralistic and democratic institutions such as trade unions.

The concept of the "Turkish-Islamic Synthesis" is taking place at the MHP, but also at the AKP Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a key role. It is currently the core ideologue of Turkish right-wing populism and nationalism. [6] The central message is the idea that the Turkish national and Islamic components of Turkish history are inextricably linked. With this form of historiography an attempt is made to build a new Turkish identity in which Turkish nationalism merges with Islamic elements. This idea finds political support not only in the openly right-wing extremist camp, but also in the broad spectrum of conservative-nationalist and Islamist-oriented movements and parties.

In the course of the migration discussions, the MHP leader Turks the concept of "European Turkishness" (Avrupa Türkçülüğü) coined as a collective term for the Turkish nationalist identity in Europe. [7] This is primarily aimed at people of Turkish origin who, although the center of their life is in Europe, are nevertheless supposed to spread their Turkish-Islamic-nationalist identity. As part of this orientation, a strong lobby for Turkish national interests is to be formed. In Germany in particular, people of Turkish origin are to be mobilized for this.

Hazard potential and provocation

In the course of the mobilization of European Turkishness, the public activities of the gray wolves in Germany also increased. In addition to numerous major events, demonstrations and disputes, this also includes the founding of right-wing extremist and Islamist-oriented rocker and boxer clubs (such as Ottoman Germania, Turan e.V., Turkos MC). The domestic import of conflicts around the Kurdish, Armenian and Alevi issues or the persecution of opposition members and Gülen supporters is spreading through the media, politics and lobby organizations in particular and is triggering new potential for conflict in Germany. Devlet Bahçeli, chairman of the MHP, for example, threatened violence on German streets after several appearances by Turkish AKP politicians in Germany had been canceled: "If Turkey cooks, Berlin will burn". [8] The North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution had already pointed out in October 2004 that the gray wolves "contribute to the emergence of a parallel society in Europe" and thus constitute "an obstacle to the integration of the Turkish population" [9].