Germany may follow French example and ban Turkish ultranationalist group

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Several political parties in the German parliament have called for a ban on the activities of a Turkish ultranationalist group in the country, known as ülkücüler, or idealists, following a similar move by France earlier this week.

The French government on Wednesday banned the activities in France of an ultranationalist group known as the Grey Wolves, seen as a wing of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is allied with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Sevim Dağdelen, a member of the German parliament from the Left Party, called for a similar ban on the group in Germany.

“The federal government should immediately follow the French example and ban the ‘Federation of Associations of Turkish Democratic Idealists in Germany,’ the umbrella organization of the Grey Wolves in this country,” Dağdelen said, according to Deutsche Welle.

Following the French move to ban the Grey Wolves, which came after a center dedicated to the memory of those who died in the mass killings of Armenians during World War I was defaced last weekend with graffiti that included the name of the Grey Wolves, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement in which it accused the French government of actually banning an “imaginary” group.

“Attempts to resort to imaginary decisions presuming the existence of such a movement or formation based on some individuals and their actions reflects the latest contradictory psychology that this country lives in,” said the ministry’s statement.

Dağdelen refused to describe the idealist or the ülkücü movement as imaginary, explaining that with 170 local organizations and 7,000 members, the group is one of the largest right-wing extremist groups in the country and one that is an enemy of the German constitution.

The German lawmaker claimed the idealist group promotes polarization and division in Germany through provocative actions against Kurds, Armenians, Alevis, Greeks and Jews.

The Federation of Associations of Turkish Democratic Idealists in Germany was established in Frankfurt in 1978.

Turkey’s MHP, which had earlier denied any links to the Grey Wolves group in France, has not made any statement regarding the French decision to ban the group.

“Islamist and fascist organizations should be shown zero tolerance,” Dağdelen said, adding that the Grey Wolves are closely linked to the MHP and its partner, Erdoğan, who she said “terrorizes people for having critical views.”

The German Green Party and Alternative for Germany (AfD), a right-wing populist party, has also called for a ban on the activities of the idealist movement in Germany.

Cem Özdemir, a lawmaker of Turkish origin from the Green Party, as well as Irene Mihalic and Konstantin von Notz, who are also from the Green Party, said Germany must ban the Grey Wolves, which they said is an army of Erdoğan.

AfD’s Alexander Gauland described the Grey Wolves as “Erdoğan’s pro-extremism soldiers,” noting that the banning of the group in Germany is a belated decision.

People affiliated with the Grey Wolves, known as Bozkurtlar in Turkish, and the MHP traditionally show their loyalty with a hand gesture in which the little and index fingers are raised.

Mehmet Ali Ağca, the Turkish nationalist who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, had also been linked to the movement.

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