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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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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Canada C3: Diversity & Inclusion

In the short essay I submitted as part of my Canada C3 application, I chose to reflect on a theme which resonates with me on a personal level: diversity and inclusion.

My elementary school was full of mainly first-generation children from a diverse array of backgrounds. This is a photo of my grade five class in 1997.

 

I am from the most diverse city in the world. Toronto – a metropolis where over half of the residents, my parents included, are born outside of Canada.

Yet as a young child, I didn’t realize how unique this environment was. I had no idea that growing up amongst mainly first-generation peers whose parents had come from countries such as Sri Lanka, Poland, Egypt and China wasn’t common in many other parts of Canada.

I took multiculturalism for granted.

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