What do Laz people think of Turks

My Turkey / identity: You don't look Turkish at all

Read the Turkish original here. The text has been edited slightly for the German version.

The 33-year-old graphic designer Esra Gülmen studied interior design in Turkey, then went to Frankfurt and Amsterdam and finally ended up in Berlin. When her new acquaintances found out that she was Turkish, they often said: "But you don't look Turkish at all."

Can Dündar

is editor-in-chief of the web portal he founded in Germany # Özgürüz. According to the weekly ZEIT column My turkey he now writes regularly about his life in Germany.

This cliché, which many Turks are confronted with abroad, was heard so often by Esra that she turned it into an exhibition. Don’t I Look Turkish? opened last week, here are the questions that she is asked most frequently: "Do you have to wear a veil in Turkey?" - "Do you ride camels?" - "Do you eat pork?"

The artist Işıl Eğrikavuk, who also lives in Berlin, was already with the photo performance last year But You Don't Look Turkish Confronted prejudices. Germans travel to Turkey more often than all other Europeans and meet more Turks in their country, but prejudices are still widespread even in this country.

In the confusion, of course, it also plays a role that the "Turkish types" you meet are so different. Perception varies depending on when, why and where people migrated from Turkey.

For the first, the answers to these three questions are in turn: "In the 1960s", "to work here", especially "from Anatolia ..."

It sounds different with those who came last: "In the 2010s", "to be free", especially "from Istanbul ..."

The wave of migration spanning three generations has given migrants of Turkish origin in Germany their own identity beyond Turkish and German. In Turkey they are viewed as "German nationals" and in Germany as "Turks", but their identity is neither entirely German nor entirely Turkish, rather it feeds on both and is a hybrid that is different from both identities.

We added to this confusion: those who suffer from repression instead of unemployment, who lost their breath under the authoritarian regime and are looking for democracy here, the Erdoğan victims, scientists, artists, journalists, writers ...

Most of us have one thing in common: the conviction that Turkey is so colorful that it cannot be forced into a single uniform; the fight against the stereotypes Erdoğan wants to lock us into and to be accused by the majority, whom he incited, of "not thinking like a Turk", "of being different from the Turks".

Our books and newspapers have been banned, we are being tried, we have been expelled from our chairs, so we had an "integration problem" in our own country. The problem became chronic and led us into exile voluntarily or by necessity. But here we received the well-known ascription:

"But you don't look Turkish at all."

Not only in the eyes of the Germans, but also for some of the people who have migrated from Turkey before us, who cling to their roots to withstand the storm that the migration is causing, we are "different from the Turks". Some of us feel annoyed as an insult, others proudly as a compliment.

All those who harbor stereotypical prejudices and say to every alcohol-drinking, atheistic blonde: "You are very different from the Turks" should finally face the following fact: Not they are different from the Turks, but all Turks are different. And that's much better than if everyone were the same.

Translated from the Turkish by Sabine Adatepe