Cem Özdemir on gray wolves: “This ban is overdue”

The Bundestag wants the Turkish right-wing extremists gray wolves to be banned. Cem Özdemir from the Greens would have liked to have formulated the proposal more clearly.

The wolf salute: symbol of the Turkish right-wing extremist Gray Wolves Photo: Lars Berg / imago

taz: Mr. Özdemir, you campaigned in the Bundestag for a cross-party motion on the gray wolves. The interior minister is to consider a ban on Turkish right-wing extremists, as in France. Why now?

Cem Ozdemir: This ban is long overdue, but now there is a window of opportunity for a majority. The last occasion was the pictures from Lyon, where the memorial for the victims of the genocide of the Armenians and other Christian peoples was desecrated by the Gray Wolves. This movement is also active in Germany, it tries to intimidate people who have a different opinion. There is also a credibility problem. We banned the PKK in Germany, but not this movement – probably out of consideration for the Turkish government.

What is the danger of the gray wolves?

It is an ultra-nationalist, racist and violent movement with an anti-Semitic ideology. In Turkey she is responsible for hundreds of murders – of leftists, Kurds, Alevis and those who think differently.

How are the gray wolves positioned in Germany?

There are several umbrella organizations with hundreds of local organizations. Some sources assume at least 18,500 members of the largest three umbrella organizations alone, making the Gray Wolves the strongest right-wing extremist organization in this country. In Germany, too, they are fighting for the idea of ​​Pan-Turkism, an empire of the Turkic peoples from western China to the Balkans. And the others are disturbing. The fate of the Armenians in 1915 showed what to disturb means.

What influence do the Gray Wolves have on the AKP, the party of Turkish President Erdoğan?

54, is a member of the Bundestag and a member of the Greens. From 2008 to 2018 he was national chairman of his party.

With the MHP you are de facto a kind of coalition partner in Turkey and the real power in the state. Because Erdoğan can only stay in power because he has made a pact with Turkish ultra-nationalism. It goes so far that he and people from the AKP leadership are spotted with the wolf salute more and more often, even in Germany. This is a very clear signal that the extreme form of nationalism is being supported right up to the top of the Turkish state. That was also one of the problems in drawing up the joint application in the Bundestag.

In what way?

The mandate to the federal government regarding the gray wolves is clearly formulated. But you can imagine that I would have liked to have made the connections between the Gray Wolves and the Turkish government clearer. You have to ask the SPD parliamentary group why that was not possible.

There are always reports, most recently in the local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, that supporters of the Gray Wolves are trying to influence the CDU, for example. Is that part of the strategy?

Yes, all parties have certainly had members from this area. During my time as federal chairman, I tried to put massive pressure on us to prevent this influence. In the local elections in NRW there were some blatant cases at the CDU, for example a supposed supporter of the Gray Wolves in Duisburg and an Erdoğan lobbyist and denier of the genocide against the Armenians in Gelsenkirchen.

Have you been threatened by the Gray Wolves yourself?

There have already been meetings with supporters of this movement. There are reasons why I am protected by the Federal Criminal Police Office at events and when I’m on the move.

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AfD spokesman Christian Lüth scandal: Nazi grandpa just invented?

AfD spokesman Lüth had to go because he sees himself as a fascist. The party leadership wants him to remain free. Now there is new confusion.

The middle between Gauland and Meuthen is on the far right Photo: Soeren Stache / dpa

BERLIN taz | Tuesday afternoon, when the AfD parliamentary group comes together for their session, things could get very busy. The agenda includes the future of press spokesman Christian Lüth, who faction leader Alexander Gauland released from his duties a week and a half ago. The parliamentary group had already discussed Lüth on Monday. According to information from the taz, after intensive discussion, it was agreed that the exemption should initially continue until the summer break. Too many things are still unclear for a final decision.

But the group does not want to simply take note of this. She wants to have a say – and decide. Lüth finally had to face a vote of the parliamentary group before starting the job, the reasoned.

The background to Lüth’s exemption is a WhatsApp chat with a young woman who is supposed to be a member of the tightly conservative union of values ​​- and the more details become public, the more bizarre the matter appears. In the chat, which dates back to the end of last year, Lüth is said to have described himself as a “fascist”, boasted of his “Aryan” lineage and related positively to his alleged grandfather, a corvette captain who served as a submarine commander in the Second World War who had fought the Navy. For this he was honored by Hitler with the Iron Cross.

According to the AfD, Lüth is said to have proudly told other people about his grandfather. But this man, Wolfgang Lüth, doesn’t seem to be his grandfather at all. That was the direct descendants in conversation with the time and the mirror clear. Accordingly, Wolfgang Lüth was only Christian Lüth’s great uncle. Why he apparently invented a Nazi grandfather is only one of the open questions. Lüth himself has so far not made any public statements, and he has also left an inquiry from the taz unanswered.

Who benefits from Lüth’s case?

It is also unclear what relationship AfD parliamentary group spokesman had with the woman and how the chat came about. At first it was said that the woman had applied to the parliamentary group, but that does not seem to be the case. In the end, the chat and the threat to publish it ended up with Gauland – who pulled the ripcord a week and a half ago.

For Gauland, Lüth is not just any person. The former FDP man, who worked for two members of the Bundestag and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, came to the AfD in 2013 and – initially as the party’s press spokesman – always had a feel for how the balance of power shifted at the top. But he was always connected to Gauland, the powerful old man of the AfD – which paid off in 2017 when the party moved into the Bundestag. Sections of the parliamentary group wanted to prevent Lüth as press spokesman because he was considered cocky and unsound and had a reputation among journalists for not being particularly reliable. But Gauland prevailed.

The party and parliamentary group are meanwhile cheerfully speculating about who will benefit from the press spokesman’s exemption internally. Some right wingers in the faction could use the personnel to weaken faction leader Gauland and his co-chair Alice Weidel. Shortly before Easter they had organized a special meeting of the parliamentary group against the will of the top because they were dissatisfied with the Corona course of their leadership.

Tino Chrupalla, who has headed the party together with Jörg Meuthen since December, could also benefit from a new spokesman for the group. Chrupalla had confirmed Gauland’s exemption last weekend, even though he is not responsible for the media or personnel issues as the parliamentary group vice-president.

It can also be heard from the group that it is completely unclear whether Lüth really has to go in the end. Possibly a “connection use” is also sought. However, it is not excluded that the press spokesman will return to his old job at some point. “Fascist” or not.

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