İsa Artar about subliminal prejudices

Because of his political and journalistic activities, İsa Artar came under state pressure and police observation in Turkey. Before he was sentenced to a custodial sentence, he managed to flee to Germany in December 2016. In this interview excerpt, he describes how he is confronted with subliminal prejudices in Berlin, even in liberal circles, and which prejudices from the Turkish community he faces.

İsa Artar, private photo.

“Die Deutschen, die ich kenne, sind eher gebildete Menschen usw. Ich habe natürlich schon manche komische Leute gesehen, aber richtige rassistische Vorwürfe habe ich noch nicht erlebt.

Aber in manchen Sachen kommen so Vorurteile mit. Zum Beispiel habe ich schon oft die Frage gestellt bekommen: ‘Ja, wenn alles dann vorbei ist, willst du dann wieder in die Türkei gehen und da leben?’ Also, ich kann diese Frage am Anfang schon verstehen. Aber wenn ich seit vier Jahren hier wohne, verstehe ich nicht, warum diese Frage kommt. Das ist doch auch so eine Sache: Wenn man in irgendeinem Land so lange lebt und sich ein Leben aufbaut, ist es sehr schwer zurückzugehen. Das ist ja noch nicht mal eine Wahl, das muss man irgendwie, man hat sich ein Leben gebaut, Kinder bekommen, das Kind geht in die Schule usw. Das ist so schwer, dann wieder zurückzukehren. Deswegen habe ich mich gefragt, warum diese Frage so oft kommt. […] Ich antworte dann immer sehr deutlich: ‘Nein, auf gar keinen Fall, ich will hier bleiben.’

Ich glaube, ich habe auch nicht so richtig konservative Leute kennengelernt. […] Dann wäre es vielleicht anders. Aber ich hatte zum Beispiel in meinem Praktikum einen Typen: Also da hatte jemand Sekt dabei und hat ausgeschenkt, und da hat der gesagt: ‘Das ist halal, halal.’ 11Nach islamischem Recht erlaubt. Und da habe ich gesagt: ‘Es ist mir scheißegal, ob es halal ist. Ich bin nicht gläubig.’ Also, ich kann meinetwegen gerne was trinken. Manchmal hatte ich auch das Gefühl, dass ich, obwohl ich nicht so gerne Alkohol trinke, ich zeigen wollte, dass ich Alkohol trinken kann.

Aber dann hatte ich auch manchmal das Gefühl, dass einige Deutsche denken, dass wir bestimmte Dinge nur hier machen: Wir daten Frauen nur hier, wir trinken Alkohol nur hier, wir tanzen und feiern nur hier. Und in der Türkei sind  wir dagegen und akzeptieren das nicht. Manche sind der Meinung und das ist störend. […]

An meinen Gedanken über Freiheit und Leben hat sich nichts geändert. Die waren in der Türkei genauso wie hier. Nur dass sie sich hier leichter leben lassen. […] Ich lehne diese Vorwürfe ab, dass wir hier so gut und frei leben und das in der Türkei anders machen würden. Ich will auch nicht, dass alle herkommen müssen, um ein gutes Leben zu haben. Ich will, dass die Türkei auch für mehr Leute ein Lebensmittelpunkt sein kann. Und Syrien auch. […]

Für mich war die Geflüchtetenidentität nicht so problematisch. Problematisch war eher diese Identität ‘verheirateter Mann’: Ich war 24 und verheiratet, was ich für mein Leben eigentlich nicht wünschte. […] Wir haben das gemacht, weil es bürokratisch einfacher war. […]

Und jetzt sage ich überall: Ich bin Student. Also, ich muss nicht allen erzählen, dass ich im Asyl bin. Ich habe auch keine Angst davor, das zu erzählen. Ich verstecke das nicht, aber es gibt da manche Vorurteile auch aus der türkischen Community, zum Beispiel bei den Leuten in Dönerladen: Die denken, dass das nur reiche Leute sind, die da kommen, um zu studieren, die eine reiche Familie haben. […] Ich hätte das niemals machen können. Aber ich habe jetzt durch das Stipendium die Möglichkeit.”

    Footnotes

  • 1Nach islamischem Recht erlaubt.

“The Germans I know are educated people etc. Of course, I have seen some strange people, but I have not experienced real racist accusations.

But in some things, prejudices come along. For example, I have often been asked the question: ‘Yes, when everything is over, do you want to go back to Turkey and live there?’ Well, I can understand this question at the beginning. But if I have lived here for four years, I don’t understand why this question comes up. It’s a thing: when you live in any country for so long and you build a life for yourself, it’s very difficult to go back. It’s not even a choice, you have to somehow, you have built a life for yourself, you have children, the child goes to school, etc. It is so hard to go back then. So I asked myself why this question comes up so often. […] I always answer very clearly: ‘No, no way, I want to stay here.’

I don’t think I’ve met any really conservative people here. […] Then maybe it would have been different. But I had a guy during my internship, for example: Someone had champagne with him and served it, and he said: ‘This is halal, halal.’ 11Allowed by Islamic law. And I said: ‘I don’t give a damn if it’s halal. I am not a religious person.’ Well, I can have a drink if I want. Sometimes I also had the feeling that although I don’t like drinking alcohol, I wanted to show that I can drink alcohol.

But then I also sometimes had the feeling that some Germans think that we do certain things only here: We date women only here, we drink alcohol only here, we dance and celebrate only here. And in Turkey we are against it and we don’t accept it. Some people are of the opinion and that is disturbing. […]

Nothing has changed in my thoughts about freedom and life. They were the same in Turkey as here. Only that they are easier to live here. […] I reject these accusations that we live so well and freely here and would do things differently in Turkey. I also don’t want everyone to have to come here to have a good life. I want Turkey to be a place where more people can live. And Syria too. […]

For me the refugee identity was not so problematic. The identity of the ‘married man’ was more problematic: I was 24 and married, which I did not really want for my life. […] We did this because it was bureaucratically simpler. […]

And now I say everywhere: I am a student. So, I don’t have to tell everyone that I am in asylum. I am also not afraid to tell them. I don’t hide it, but there are some prejudices even from the Turkish community, for example among the people in kebab store over there: They think that they are just rich people who come there to study, who have a rich family. […] I could never have done that. But now, thanks to the scholarship, I have the opportunity.”

    Footnotes

  • 1Allowed by Islamic law.

After being politically active in school and university, İsa Artar became involved in the Gezi protest movement in 2013. 11In 2013, a broad protest movement against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began in Gezi Park at Taksim Square in Istanbul. The demonstrations, which were originally directed against a planned construction project, developed into a diverse and strong civil society movement, which also received a lot of international support and spread beyond Istanbul. The police took violent action against the demonstrations, and some people were killed. Afterwards, while studying art history, he became editor-in-chief of the independent and critical news portal “Siyasi Haber”. After the failed military coup against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016, there were mass dismissals in the military and public service in Turkey. The state persecution of opposition members and government critics, especially journalists, has increased sharply since then. İsa Artar also came under the scrutiny of the authorities. However, before an arrest warrant was issued against him, he managed to escape to Germany in December 2016. In the meantime he has been granted asylum, is studying journalism and communication sciences and writes for the Tagesspiegel, among others.

In this excerpt from an interview that We Refugees Archive conducted with İsa Artar in July 2020, he describes how he is confronted with subliminal prejudices in Berlin, even in liberal circles, and which prejudices from the Turkish community he faces.

    Footnotes

  • 1In 2013, a broad protest movement against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began in Gezi Park at Taksim Square in Istanbul. The demonstrations, which were originally directed against a planned construction project, developed into a diverse and strong civil society movement, which also received a lot of international support and spread beyond Istanbul. The police took violent action against the demonstrations, and some people were killed.

This is an excerpt from an interview that We Refugees Archive conducted with İsa Artar in July 2020.

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