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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Where I’m ‘Really’ From

Consider this an uncensored diary entry of sorts. Political correctness isn’t something I necessarily expect of others, but once in a while, exceptions must be made. Taiye Selasi thinks so, too. In her talk Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local, she says: “Our experience is where we’re from.” She also admits her biggest problem with ‘coming from’ countries is the myth of going back to them – something I can definitely relate with.