Documenting and Explaining the Persistence of Homeland Politics among Germany’s Turks

Since Turks are one of Europe’s largest predominantly Muslim immigrant communities, their political interests play an important role in the controversy confronting Western democratic societies. Western Europeans are concerned about whether and how immigrants introduce homeland conflicts into host societies. The text addresses this issue of politics among Turks in Germany.

First, data is presented on the development of all major Turkish organizations in Germany since the early 1960s. Major Turkish organizations and also transplanted factions have been established in liberal democracies, for example Germany. These organizations play a key role in the determination of politics among Germany’s Turks. According to the article, the Turkish organizations have failed to mobilize Germany’s Turks around shared ethnocultural grievances against the host society. The TPOS model (transnational political opportunity structure) is used to explain possible homeland versus host country orientation in constructing immigrants identities, namely that immigrants will integrate differently.

According to this model, transnational organizations focus on homeland differences instead of common interests. I believe that this can very well be part of the reason why there is so much controversy, since when people focus on differences rather than the common goals, controversy is triggered that can soon escalate, especially in politics.

Ögelman argues that Turkey has failed to manage social conflict. However, how immigrants are going to fit into the political cohesive depends on two factors, namely which migrants enter the host country and how they are received. According to the model, if host democracies fail to absorb ethnocultural minorities quickly, factions will be provided with an advantage over local collective organizations. If host democracies succeed in absorbing ethnocultural minorities, these immigrants will be integrated into the local collective organizations. Also, whether the sending state generates ideologically distinct contentious political migrants plays a key role in determining the migrants political cohesiveness. Migrants, often politically dissatisfied, may be united and fragmented by their grievances against the sending state. If the host society fails to absorb them, diverse transplanted factions are likely to determine the group’s political cohesion, whereas otherwise they would be integrated into local collective organizations.

From these arguments, it is clear that the way immigrants are perceived and especially the way they integrated politically is determined both by their original orientation, but also by the way they are perceived in the host country. This will form their immigration experience, and also determine the kinds of groups of immigrants that form and in a broader context it will also form the political controversy between Germany and Turkey. In a multicultural society, political differences are unavoidable, but the extent to which they negatively play a crucial role in shaping the lives of people and the perception of others inside the society towards immigrants, I believe, can be controlled by the integration of minorities into host countries.

by Sarah Hesse

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