German university fires Turkish assistant for anti-Kurdish racist posts

MAINZ, Germany (Rudaw) – A Turkish doctoral student working as a research assistant at a German university was fired from his job for repeatedly posting and tweeting racist comments against Kurds on social media.

Although Cemal Aydogan claimed that his accounts had been hacked, the Ilmenau University of technology where he worked concluded that he was not telling the truth and had maintained a racist mindset for years. It fired him on Monday.

Referring to a picture in which a young Kurd’s body was tied to a Turkish police vehicle and dragged through the streets of a Kurdish town, Aydogan tweeted on October 4: “What’s wrong with soldiers, police taking their dogs for a walk?”

His statement caused a huge outcry on German social media sites, not just because of the comment itself but because it came from someone employed at a university.

Hundreds and Kurds and Germans complained on the university’s Facebook page that an institution of higher education should be an example of tolerance and not employ somebody who openly supports racism.

Just days after Aydogan’s comment, the university suspended him, reported the case to German police and stated that it will investigate the allegations and decide on how to handle the affair.

Three weeks later, Aydogan was fired, after the university discovered that he had posted similar comments on prior occasions.

On Tuesday, the university said in a press statement: “Contrary to the statements which the research assistant had immediately made after the publication of the hate speech on Twitter to the university management, the university of Ilmenau has come to know of similar incidents in the past. Due to the new findings, the university sees the relationship of trust irretrievably shattered and therefore terminates the employment contract.”

Jana Hansen,who has studied anthropology and lives in the German city of Hamburg, said she was glad that German institutions were beginning to act against anti-Kurdish attacks by Turks.

“I am so happy about the university’s decision,” she said. “Turkish racism towards Kurds is tremendous. In most cases it’s not about love for their own people or their country, it’s just hatred towards Kurds. I am glad that German institutions start to react to that kind of racism too.”

Alan Shekhani, who lives in southern Germany and is originally from Kirkuk, said that the racism against Kurds existed partly because Germany does not distinguish between Kurds and Turks.

“This is a structural problem,“ he said. “German institutions don’t recognize that there is a difference between Turks and Kurds and that we are being discriminated against systematically.”

Referring to German Minister of Integration Aydan Ozoguz, who is of Turkish ethnicity, he said: “Just think of minister Ozoguz. After she didn’t invite a single Kurdish organization to an immigrant organization‘s meeting (earlier this year), there was a huge outcry. And what did she do after that? Just invite one Kurdish organization to an informal meeting, but up to 10 Turkish organizations.This is discrimination in its purest form!”

The Kurdish-Turkish conflict in the Middle East has caused huge tensions between Turks and Kurds abroad, especially in Germany, which hosts the largest immigrant populations from both groups.

In September, one Kurd in Germany was stabbed in the neck by Turkish attackers and in Switzerland several Kurds were knocked down with a car by supporters of the Grey Wolves, an extreme right-wing Turkish group.

There are an estimated two million Turks and one million Kurds living in Germany.

By Polla Germiany – Rudaw