Turkish journalist in exile subjected to harassment due to Erdoğan’s Nazi remarks

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A passenger waits on a platform at the main train station in Augsburg, southern Germany.

A Turkish journalist who fled an ongoing witch-hunt in Turkey against critical journalists and took refuge in Germany in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey last summer has been subjected to harassment and slurs in the southern German city of Augsburg due to recent remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing Germany of acting like “Nazis.”

The journalist, who requested to be referred to only by her initials F.D. out of security concerns, told Turkish Minute that the incident took place while she was returning from a German language course in Augsburg’s Konigsplatz area on Tuesday evening.

“I was in a hurry to catch the train to go home. When I reached the train station, a woman who looked to be in her 40s waiting there suddenly moved and pointed to my headscarf and began to say things like I am an outsider and Muslims have no place in Germany and that I should go back home. She also used some swear words in German. I was very much puzzled by the woman’s reaction because the treatment I have received from Germans ever since I began to live in this country has been friendly, with some strangers even smiling at me and saying ‘Hello’ in the street, ” said F.D.

The journalist said she thought the woman’s reaction was only because of her headscarf and Muslim identity, but it later turned out that it was more related to Erdoğan’s Nazi accusations.

“We got on the same train as the woman. She continued to harass me with her looks in the train, and when the train reached her stop, she walked toward my seat, pushed me with her body and stepped on my foot and then began to shout at me while everyone else was listening. ‘I am not a Nazi,’ the woman shouted while pointing a finger at me. I tried to tell her I did not call her a ‘Nazi’ or any other thing, but she was filled with so much anger and hatred, she didn’t hear a word I said. She used some swear words again before getting off the train and then left,” explained the journalist.

F.D. said she later understood that the woman’s anger against her was actually due to Erdoğan’s Nazi remarks.

Erdoğan recently accused Germany and the Netherlands of employing Nazi practices and being fascists because they refused to allow some Turkish government officials to hold campaign rallies there for a public referendum that will increase Erdoğan’s powers.

“Being an Erdoğan victim who had to leave all I had back in Turkey and trying to establish a new life for myself in Germany, I continue to be victimized by Erdoğan’s policies even here in Germany. While trying to win several more points for the referendum at home by making insulting statements about European countries, Erdoğan does not care how difficult he is making life for Turks living in those countries and how he is making them open targets of hate crime,” said the journalist.

F.D. said she reported the woman who harassed and insulted her to the German police and that an investigation has been launched to identify her.

The Augsburg police later identified the woman as Helena Kurella who lives in Gersthofen.

Dozens of journalists and government critics had to flee Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 as the Turkish government launched a massive witch-hunt against dissidents under the cover of a post-coup purge.

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