The term “Gray Wolf” sparked a crisis between Turkey and Germany… What's the story? | Policy

turkey- The celebration of Turkish national team defender Merih Demiral after scoring the second goal against the Austrian national team and securing the team's qualification for the quarter-finals of the “Euro 2024” has sparked widespread controversy in the sports and political circles, both at the official and civilian levels.

Demiral flashed the “Bozkurt” hand sign, which involves raising the pinky and index fingers, the slogan of the “Grey Wolves” movement, which is politically represented by the “Nationalist Movement Party” and is banned in many European countries, including Austria and France.

Massive attack on Demiral

German Interior Minister Nancy Wiesel tweeted her displeasure at Demiral holding up the “Bozkut” sign, saying: “There is no place for Turkish far-right symbols in our stadiums. As we expect from UEFA, it is unacceptable for the Euros to be a platform for racism.”

Weser also shared a link to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution's analysis of the Grey Wolves movement in Germany, explaining: “Our security services are keeping a close eye on Turkish right-wing extremists in Germany.”

This means that the movements of gray wolves are monitored by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, but their movements and signals are not prohibited in Germany.

The European Football Association (UEFA) has launched an investigation into the Turkish defender for “possible misconduct” during the match in accordance with Article 31, paragraph 4 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations. In a statement, he said, “An investigator has been appointed to decide on ethical and disciplinary issues.”

In this context, the German-Israeli Association described the Grey Wolves as a threat to Jews, Armenians, Greeks and Kurds, calling on German authorities to ban the right-wing group. “The ideology of these fascist nationalists endangers public safety,” said Volker Beck, chairman of the organization, in a statement.

Formal feedback

On Wednesday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador to Ankara to the Foreign Ministry headquarters amid Berlin's call for UEFA to impose sanctions on national team player Demiral.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the German Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to Berlin to protest against Demiral's signals that the ministry considered “extremist.”

Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the politically motivated reaction to the use of historical and cultural symbols in a way that is not directed against anyone during the joyous celebrations of sports matches.

The ministry statement added: “It is unacceptable that UEFA has launched a disciplinary investigation into our national footballer Merih Demiral.”

In this context, Turkey's Minister of Youth and Sports Osman Ashkin Parker said: “The hype surrounding this celebration is a bit exaggerated.” He posted a photo of Demiral saluting on the “X” platform and commented: “There is no need to write a long article on this topic.”

As for AKP spokesman Omer Celik, he commented: “Those who are worried about racism and fascism should turn their attention to the recent European elections.”

Commenting on the issue, Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli criticized UEFA and called the investigation “biased and unfair,” stressing that “UEFA's involvement in this anti-Turkish and anti-Turkish campaign is part of a series of continuous provocations.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was preparing to watch Turkey's European Championship quarter-final against the Netherlands in Berlin on Saturday, according to activists, as part of his support for the Turkish national team in the framework of “2024”, after canceling a trip to Azerbaijan that was scheduled for the same day.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, journalist Omar Bayram ruled out the possibility that the current crisis between Ankara and London could escalate to a higher level, stressing that the crisis would remain within the framework of a political dispute even if UEFA decided to impose a penalty on the player Merih Demiral, despite the possibility that no penalty would be imposed.

Bayram mentioned that a wave of anger swept across Europe after Turkish national team players celebrated with a “military salute” in the eighth round of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers, but the incident did not lead to more protests. Information was exchanged between the parties concerned.

Popular response

The Turkish national team player received strong support from all sectors of Turkish society after UEFA announced its intention to investigate him.

Journalist and writer Shevda Tokusev announced his support for Demiral from the first moment, saying: “Melih Demiral, we stand with you. UEFA has launched an investigation into the son who raised the Grey Wolves logo, which shows the identity of the Turks, right? “From here..”

In this context, the official account of the Turkish club Fenerbahce fans posted a photo of Demiral holding up the Grey Wolves logo and commented: “Someone is unhappy, let's continue to bother them.”

On the other hand, Fehat Incu, a former member of the Turkish Parliament of the Kurdish People's Democratic Party, attacked the Turkish players for what they did, commenting, “I will never stand with racists and fascists, and until today we commemorate Madmak. … Those who burned Madmak put up this sign, Down with fascism.”

What is a Gray Wolf?

The group was founded in the 1960s by Colonel Alp Arslan Turkes, who played a major role in the 1960 Turkish coup and founded the Nationalist Movement Party, which is currently an ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Its name can be traced back to an ancient legend telling of a genocidal war against the Turks, in which only one child survived, who was forced to marry a she-wolf and gave birth to 12 men who rebuilt the Turkish tribe.

The group espouses the idea of ​​Turkish racial superiority, opposes granting citizenship to Turkish Kurds and Alevis, and faces accusations of being an “ultra-fascist” movement. Several European countries have designated it a terrorist organization because it is accused of carrying out bloody attacks, such as the assassination of Pope John Paul II in Portugal in 1981 and the killing of more than 100 Alawites and dozens of left-wing demonstrators in Maras in 1978. Taksim Square, Istanbul, 1977.

The group is banned in many European countries and has been involved in regional conflicts, including between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in Cyprus, support for Uighurs in China's Xinjiang region, and involvement in the first and second Chechen wars against Russia.

The group is also believed to have fought against Armenia in Azerbaijan and was subsequently involved in a coup that led to the group being banned in Azerbaijan, and in 2005 the group was also banned in Kazakhstan.

A 2017 report by the Federal Office for Civic Education showed that the group is the largest far-right movement in Germany, surpassing the neo-Nazi movement. European reports confirm that the “Grey Wolves” are active unarmed in countries with large Turkish communities, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, France and Belgium.

In 2020, the group defaced an Armenian genocide memorial near the city of Lyon and wrote the words “Grey Wolves” on it, following which France decided to ban the group. In response to the decision, the Turkish government said that “there is no organization called Grey Wolves”.

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