Özil, national identity and why I’m disappointed in Germany

Mesut Özil. Photo: DPA

While I don’t believe what Mesut Özil did was smart, the deed is done. The star footballer didn’t think anything of having his photo taken with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, a month before he was due to represent the German national team in the 2018 World Cup.

Born in Germany to Turkish parents, the midfielder refrained from immediately commenting on the controversial photos. Instead he chose to do so after Deutschland crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage and the tournament ended.

In a series of tweets responding to the nationwide backlash, Özil announced his retirement from international football after criticism of his performance, citing “racism and disrespect” from the media, fans, politicians and the high-profile German football federation.

“I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Özil said, before going on to question, “I was born and educated in Germany, so why don’t people accept that I am German?”

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Are people from certain countries more likely to be denied German student visas?

Students in Tübingen. Photo: DPA

In spite of receiving admission offers from universities in Germany, Arbab Mazhar’s student visa was rejected twice by the German embassy in Islamabad. The Pakistani man is not alone in his experience.

When Arbab Mazhar got accepted on a Bachelor programme at a German higher education institution back in 2011, he had no idea that it would be years until he was finally granted a visa to study in Deutschland.

Mazhar told The Local that his rejections were “totally unfair” and initially “very disappointing” since he fulfilled all the necessary requirements and submitted the mandatory documents.

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It’s time we stop asking ‘where are you from?’ in Germany

When a study published last week revealed that foreigners in Germany with a visible migration background experience discrimination far more often than foreigners who appear “typically German,” it resonated with The Local’s Shelley Pascual.

Flags in Stuttgart (l) and people obtaining German citizenship (r). Photos: DPA

In the study, carried out by the Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), responses from over 5,000 immigrants and people with a migrant background across Germany were collected.

Of those who described their appearance as “typically German,” around 17 percent stated they felt disadvantaged because of their roots. By contrast, 48 percent of participants with a visible immigration background (e.g. those who have dark skin or wear a headscarf) reported having experienced discrimination.

According to these respondents, discrimination can come in many forms: violence, unfairness with regard to the search for jobs and housing, offensive statements as well as statements that may not necessarily be considered negative by the person saying it – including the often-asked question, “where are you actually from?”

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2017 Toronto Conference on Germany

Populism, immigration and the upcoming federal election in Germany were discussed at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on 8 April 2017.

An annual event in Toronto, this conference examines the relationship between Germany and Canada as well as issues of politics, the economy, foreign affairs and business from the perspectives of both countries.

This year, politicians, media representatives, scholars, students, the German community and members of the public came together for a full day to discuss the state of the union in what is arguably Europe’s most substantial country.

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