What do the Turks think of Tunisians

Turks in Germany, Maghrebians in France

There is a language border between Saarbrücken and Metz, with Turkish spoken on one side and Arabic on the other. This bon mot suggests a symmetry and indeed: in the mid-eighties there were about as many Turks in the old Federal Republic as North Africans in France, namely around 1.4 million each. In our epoch of the second migration of peoples, this is about a third of all foreigners and their strongest group. Both Turks and Maghrebians come mainly from poor rural areas, for example from Anatolia and the Algerian Kabylia. Are there parallels in migrant literature too? Or do the differences predominate here? Arnold Rothe at the Romance Department investigated the question.

In Europe, Turks and Maghrebians concentrate on metropolitan areas in which foreigners can reach 15 percent or more of the population, usually do less skilled manual work and are more severely affected by unemployment. As a result, they are more of a challenge for the lower than for the middle and upper classes. As Muslims, of course, they have recently stood for a religion that, after the collapse of communism, has been feared by many as the number one threat to the West. If they are already married, the guest workers tend to bring their relatives to join them, but thereby subject the families to considerable stress. The traditional authority of the father suffers, for example, from the fact that the children have a better command of the language of the host country and find their way around more easily. For their part, the children get caught in the tension between two systems of norms. The family honor is at stake when daughters take over the emancipated attitude of their local peers. According to surveys, 66 percent of Turkish young people have different ideas about upbringing than their parents, and 71 percent of Maghrebians feel culturally closer to the French. Among other things, the texts in which one tries to articulate oneself here and there should provide deeper insights into the milieu and mood. The assumption is that they too are similar. However, as will be shown below, this is not necessarily the case. The extra-literary differences that need to be added now and which initially lead us into the past are already too big. Turkey, sovereign from the beginning, was known to be the center of a great empire and became a nation state in 1923. It has maintained privileged and somewhat partnership-based relationships with Germany for a good hundred years and has been part of the western defense alliance, NATO, since 1952. The Maghreb, on the other hand, is divided into Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia on the one hand, and on the other hand belongs to the much larger arabophone area, came under the hegemony of France in the last century and was only able to free itself from its colonial status after 1950. Despite all the blood sacrifices, the ties to the former mother country continue to work, not least through French, the second language. There is a separation of state and religion only in Turkey, since the Europeanization and democratization by Kemal Ataturk in the twenties, but not in the countries of the Maghreb.

The massive influx from North Africa began immediately after the Second World War and, hardly interrupted by the Algerian war, swelled steadily until the so-called oil shock in 1973. Ever since then, France has taken in only about 100,000 foreigners a year in the last decade. It was not until 15 years later, in 1961, that Turks began to migrate to the Federal Republic, the result of a real recruitment campaign, but more strictly controlled from the outset due to visa requirements and an employment contract. (Here and in the following, “Turks” are understood to mean people who have or had Turkish citizenship.) The originally planned exchange every two years gave way to longer-term settlements when, after the recruitment ban in 1973, families were only really used to catch up. It was predominantly intellectuals who, at an advanced age, sought refuge from the military regimes in the early 1980s. In the last decade, the Turkish resident population only grew by an average of 50,000 annually. Temporary financial incentives ensured that an annual average of up to 8,000 Maghrebians and ten times as many Turks should have returned to their homeland in the 1980s. Overall, however, the willingness to return is steadily decreasing on both sides of the Rhine, while the number of business start-ups is increasing. Migration has become immigration. There has long been a second generation of Turkish and a third generation of Maghrebian origin. In contrast to Germany, between 1962 and 1993 the foreign children born there in France automatically acquired citizenship of the host country. To the 1.4 million inhabitants of North African origin mentioned at the beginning, another million should be added, that of the Beurs, as they call themselves. This affects a comparison with the German statistics. Initially living in slums, the so-called bidonvilles, the guest workers were housed by the French authorities in emergency shelters from the mid-1950s or, like other low-income groups, in the satellite towns that sprang up between 1953 and 1973. Nine out of ten Beurs live here today. The marginality, inhospitableness and confinement of this product of a certainly well-meaning centralized technocracy, as well as a lack of care, school failure, discrimination, unemployment and a lack of prospects led to frustration, delinquency, drug abuse and gang formation among the young people, who make up up to 40 percent of the local population. A sensitive social plan drawn up in 1981 for the quarters could do little to counteract this. At about the same time, in a climate of economic crisis and still unresolved colonial attitudes, right-wing extremism and xenophobia appeared on the scene. Le Pens Front National had its first major successes, not least with the repatriated French in Algeria. The Beurs were particularly irritated by this, as they had a French passport, but were suspicious of them like foreigners. 150 murders of young people of Maghreb origin were caused by racism between 1980 and 1985. In response, looting and arson. The vicious circle of violence and counter-violence was broken in 1983 with the disciplined “March for Equality”, which led from Marseille to Paris in almost two months, called for the “right to be different” at rallies and gained growing understanding from the media and finally from President Mitterrand . French intellectuals and artists took part in the SOS-Racisme action group from 1984 onwards. In the meantime the Beur movement has subsided: integration of the majority, ghettoization of a minority. An integration that insists on respecting cultural peculiarities, a ghettoization that stems from the segregation and confrontation of the various minorities, makes headlines every few weeks with riots and also leads to a return to Islamic ways of life. It is currently unlikely that the terrorist fundamentalism of the Algerian FIS could gain a foothold in France. As an answer to all of this, the policy of assimilation, which has been extremely successful for decades, no longer seems to be sufficient. It stood under the sign of republican unity and equality and used the secular school as a forge of the citizen. In the Federal Republic of Germany the development was much more unspectacular, dampened not least by the good political behavior to which the Turks as foreigners saw themselves. The family immigration after 1973 certainly caught the authorities, social and educational institutions, and indeed the German population, unprepared. However, federalism, pluralism and high decision-making power at the lower level seem to have facilitated pragmatic solutions on the ground. Marginalization was avoided insofar as the families used to settle in the city centers and old towns, which no longer met the increased demands of the locals, but had retained a structure that was friendly to communication. Overall, however, there is more side by side than togetherness. Certainly there were gangs and assaults between Turkish and non-Turkish youth in individual cities. Alarming attacks on the lives of Turks - Solingen, Mölln - did not occur until 1992, when with the turnaround, the flow of asylum seekers and the employment crisis, the latent xenophobia turned into an open one. The right-wing parties could only benefit from this at the municipal and regional level. As far as militancy and terrorism of Kurdish groups are concerned, they recently seem to be promoting a separation into “bad” and “good” Turks. In French schools, Muslim women are not allowed to wear headscarves, in Bavarian schools even the Koran is taught by teachers from Turkey who are paid by the Free State. In Germany there are slightly fewer prayer halls than in France, but more than twice as many regular mosques, namely twenty. On the other side of the Rhine, the Muslim population also has an abundance of their own radio stations, some of them arabophone, above all Radio Orient, based near Paris. With the protest movement, Radio Beur and similar stations were added. B ... comme Beur, a monthly magazine, has been published since 1990. In the Federal Republic there is more presence of the country of origin: four local broadcasters from Berlin versus eight television broadcasters from Turkey, including the public broadcasters, and not to forget the German editions of eight Turkish daily newspapers.

Here, as there, people try their hand at fiction, a form of global migrant literature that undermines the concept of national literature. This term, one of many unsatisfactory, refers to the literature of authors from a group of people who, primarily because of economic hardship, have moved to a foreign country for a long time or permanently. On the other hand, it is not about a literature that only deals with migration. Such a restriction would reduce literature to the most insignificant of its aspects, the material, and degrade the authors to exotic species who can only claim curiosity as long as they remain in their reservation. Migrant literature is therefore defined purely biographically. We have to start from Maghrebian literature. A francophone has been around since around 1950, much more lively, it is said, than the parallel arabophone. A literature by commuters, now written on this side, now on the other side of the Mediterranean, and almost always published in Paris from the outset. In the end, quite a few remained entirely in France, in a more or less voluntary exile, most recently under the impression of a deadly threat in Algeria. Mostly male, they had passed through the French school system in their home country, many of them also studied and were already part of the intellectual elite. In the meantime canonized and integrated into the French cultural scene, many a professional writer has become, including Memmi, Dib, Chraïbi, Assia Djebar and Ben Jelloun, who are also best known in this country. For the sake of simplicity, I will continue to refer to them here as Maghrebians. The literature of those who are already living in the second generation in France did not become noticeable until 1984, that is with the Beur movement, which I therefore once again simplified, called Beur literature. Since then, five to six titles have been published each year. The then twenty to thirty-year-olds, almost exclusively of Algerian descent, had come to France as children, like Kettane, or, like Begag, were born there, or at least mostly grew up in a guest worker environment. But hardly anyone, like Charef, had been a factory worker himself or had committed a criminal offense. Most of them have a higher education and are now full-time as lawyers, doctors, educators, journalists or politicians, so they pursue a middle-class and often even upper-class profession. Azouz Begag also has a doctorate in sociology and deals with the potential for conflict in the suburbs. Almost half of the 25 or so authors are women. Every second person has only published a single book - a unique act of successful self-therapy in the vigor of the Beur movement. To Tadjer and Farida Belghoul, the authors of Les A.N.I. du “Tassili” and Georgette !, this interpretation does not apply, however, as they belong to those who switch between the different arts and also work as scriptwriters or directors in the audiovisual media. Others opted for the film right from the start, according to Baloul, whose mint tea was also shown here. The Turks only really began to publish around 1983, around the same time as the Beurs. The Munich Institute for German as a Foreign Language, which has been organizing literary competitions since 1979 and making a selection of the submissions accessible through anthologies, for example in 1984 by Turks in German, was also involved. Since then, an average of three book titles have been published each year. But this is only half the truth. Many older people still use their mother tongue, especially the most productive and successful since 1970, Aras Ören. The connection with the traditional literature of the old homeland is facilitated in this way. As far as I know, none of those who regularly take up pen was born in the Federal Republic of Germany. Zehra Çirak, for example, and Renan Demirkan were not ten years old when they came, and are therefore definitely part of the second generation. Many settled down before the recruitment ban in 1973, had already gone through high school at home, often had a qualified job and sometimes even published. After arriving and doing some casual work at the beginning, you study, pursue a social or educational profession, not infrequently in a foreign environment, translate from or into your mother tongue, write for the press or radio. Only Ören, Pirinçci and Aysel Özakin should be able to live more or less as freelance writers. Overall, more modest occupations than in France. But here too - with Savasçi and Bektas, for example - the guest worker type who writes is the exception. Of the twenty authors who have repeatedly spoken out, around a third are women. Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Renan Demirkan are actresses, the latter mainly known from TV series. A personal union of author, screenwriter and / or director is less common than in France. There are others who do the film adaptations, including this or that Turk, Tevfik Baçer for example. Farewell to false paradise, classified as "particularly valuable", he shot based on a story by Saliha Scheinhardt.

The Turkish originals are also sometimes printed in this country, and then at about the same time as their German translations. Contact points for poetry and short prose are often periodicals, for books mostly left-wing or specialized small publishers, for example Rotbuch or Daùgyeli. Only a few texts then succeeded in making a breakthrough, namely the adoption in one of the popular paperback series. Of the major publishers, Kiepenheuer & Witsch in particular has recently shown the courage to publish for the first time. Regional honors went to E.S. Özdamar and Ören, the Klagenfurt Ingeborg Bachmann Prize and the Munich Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, on the initiative of Harald Weinrich, specially awarded to authors for whom German is a foreign language. In Paris, the first generation of immigrants, like the Maghrebi par excellence, were patronized by French left-wing intellectuals and initially also edited by renowned houses, especially Seuil and Denoël. Those who are already the second generation to live in France, on the other hand, are mostly dependent on small and specialist publishers, especially L’Harmattan, the promoter of everything African north and south of the Sahara. There are hardly any bestsellers. Well-known prizes have so far only been given to Maghrebians, the Goncourt to Ben Jelloun, the Grand Prix biennal des littératures d’expression française of the Académie Française to Dib and most recently the international Neustadt literary prize to Assia Djebar.

Roughly, it remains to be stated: guest worker literature in the truest sense of the word is almost non-existent. It was written by first and second generation immigrants. In France the second began a little later, in Germany about the same time as the first. More politically motivated immigration of intellectuals there than here. There monolingualism, here bilingualism. So here you can also make yourself understood by compatriots who do not speak the language of the host country. Overall, the cohesion seems stronger here, as does the influence of the country of origin.

Turks and Beurs can have the same number of publications, namely about eighty, but the distribution across the genres is very different. In France, the novel has absolute priority with three-quarters, followed by the theater with a tenth, which is a long way off. In Germany a greater diversification. There are, albeit with only a relative majority of 30 titles, volumes of poetry and so-called poems. In second place, each with 16, are collections of short stories and the novels that have only recently been accumulating. More short forms and, it might seem, more inwardness, were it not for at least four volumes of satires in which criticism and self-criticism are balanced. We'll rock the garlic child. Striking both over there: half a dozen illustrated children's books each, promoting intercultural understanding from a young age.

Maghrebian diaspora, dreary living conditions, alienation of children from their parents, outbreak of daughters, discrimination and solidarity, violence and counter-violence, but also helpfulness of French neighbors and teachers, these are typical themes of Beur literature in its early days. Only when adaptability is not rewarded do the protagonists wonder where they actually belong. The search for identity leads them back in time, even in the village of their fathers. But in the archaic and poor conditions, not only do they feel like strangers themselves, they are treated as strangers by others as well - with all the cordiality. A solution to the conflict tends to fail.

With age, the understanding of the worn and closed fathers grows, and, like Leïla Sebbar in Le Silence des rives (1993), one immerses oneself in their memories and lost illusions. The spectrum is expanding. Often the situation of the Beurs only seems to be generalized: Even the Jewish doctor for the poor from Le Vertige des Abbesses (1990) from Issaad is uprooted, and the hostile cemetery keeper from Le Poing mort (1992) by Nina Bouraoui is also an outsider. And if the same up-and-coming author in Le Bal des murènes (1996) shows how children and grandchildren have to suffer psychosomatically from the consequences of an act of violence, the war on which everything goes back could well have been the Algerian war. At the beginning there are the life paths of young people, only sparsely veiled autobiographies, lightly typed, but realistically, narrated in one thread and chronologically, occasionally interrupted by flashbacks and reflections. Pale prototype Le Sourire de Brahim (1995) by Kettane. Concern literature, unless distance is created through irony. Professionalism is not a question of maturity. Charef's first work, Le Thé au harem d’Archi Ahmed (1983), captivates with the slang with which the narrator also stylistically visualizes the narrated milieu, and Fahrida Belghoul's only child, Georgette! (1986), through the consistency with which the daydreaming perspective of a disoriented school starter is maintained. When Begag lets the Beurs appear again later, it is alienated as dogs, Les Chiens aussi (1995), which have to do guard duty with the French masters and love services with the mistresses. As the ubiquity of the cinema in the texts shows, the authors are more influenced by film and television than by literature. Kalouaz is an exception: In Point kilométrique 190 (1986), a French journalist drives the railway line on which a Maghrebi was murdered by legionnaires. The course of events is reconstructed from a criminalist point of view on the basis of authentic confessions, witness statements and press reports, and a dialogue with the deceased develops in the intervals.

The older Maghrebians asked themselves about their affiliation back home, and since the French school there still had a relatively intact legacy, much more about their cultural and linguistic affiliation. The terror of the much-invoked Algerian war did nothing to change that. Later the problem of one's own identity gave way to the problem of the identity of the whole country and all of North Africa. Highly educated, as they are all, they trace the manifold traditions of this Mediterranean melting pot, not only Arab and French, but also pre-Islamic, Berber, Jewish, and even Roman, Turkish, Italian and Iberian. With their plea for syncretism and unity in plurality, they stand at right angles to the centralism of the young regimes. In general, some taboos are broken, not least the sexual one, and criticism is not spared, on corruption, state attacks and mindless modernization, but also on social encrustation and, more recently, on fundamentalism. And when Ben Jelloun writes in Son of Her Father about a girl who is brought up as a man for the sake of her father's honor, then he is only one of many who campaign against discrimination against women. The lot of guest workers and beurs, on the other hand, is rarely noticed, most relentlessly early on, in Chraïbi's scapegoats (1955). The past is so colorful, the present so oppressive that the Maghrebians rarely and usually only leave their home country late, most definitely Dib, whose terraces of Orsol (1985), for example, are somewhere in the north, in a foreign country where the The line between reality and unreality, normality and abnormality seems to be shifted. A younger colleague, Tengour, already had a dialogue with afar, with Muslim separatists in revolutionary Russia, in his first work, Sultan Galiev (1985).

Here, too, the autobiography started. But they were more ambitious. In a kind of love-hate relationship with France, one faced literary modernism and at the same time reflected on the local and mostly oral genres, although a large part of them had yet to be discovered. The result: openness, fragmentation, a collage of the most disparate types of text, as early as Memmis Scorpion (1969), exploding the genre boundaries, Ben Jelloun's poetry, Meddeb's philosophical essay, Assia Djebar's historical documentation. No non-binding experimentation, however, it's always about the big picture. Liberating laughter only from a conventional narrator, Driss Chraïbi. In terms of form and content, there are hardly any points of contact with the Beurs. Turkish literature in Germany, on the other hand, cannot be divided into first and second generation. Overall, it remains firmly attached to current and, so to speak, internal problems: backwardness and rural exodus in Anatolia, slum formation and unemployment in the cities, educational emergency and repression, the Turkish left and feminism, all prerequisites for emigration. In the long-awaited Germany, then the disillusionment: lack of light, inhospitableness, difficulty communicating, disorientation, downgrading, the wall of prejudices, harshness and monotony of work, garbage, night shift, biting your teeth. The women as martyrs, forcibly married, struggling for daily survival, left behind, brought back to Germany, the stranger and loneliness unprepared, at the same time betrayed, women who die without having lived. One is less afraid of xenophobia and violence than of the withdrawal of work and residence permits, please no police.

Aras Ören is the only one who asks about the connections, initially from a Marxist point of view: The Germans are no less exploited than the Turks, and the capitalist system of the FRG is also responsible for right-wing extremism. The guest workers and their families keep to themselves. They dream of old age in their old homeland, if they don't fall victim to rationalization anyway, used up and without thanks. The children, on the other hand - the generation conflict is shown especially in the girls - come to terms with each other. Only the numerous intellectuals among the protagonists, circling their special status, are at times skeptical of the possibility, even desirability, of total assimilation. What is the plural of home? asks Kemal Kurt, should I grow old here? Aysel Özakin. In contrast to France, this group-relatedness is only replaced in very rare cases, for example in the poetry of Senocak or in The Woman with the Beard (1994) by Renan Demirkan. And one of them is aloof from the start, Pirinçci: In his first film, Tears Are Always the End (1980), he pursues the happiness and disruption of a first great love that could soon have happened to any adolescent back then. However, if his later novels concern racial hygiene and the exploitation of the disabled, he may well have considered his origins.

Turkish-German literature, too, has largely grown out of personal concern. The source is the everyday, but not only what you have experienced yourself, but at least as much what you have experienced. Little transposition. In contrast to the Beurs and Maghrebians, the limits of decency are always preserved. Short prose is preferred, but it does not always reach the condensation of a Habib Bekta. The short forms influence the long forms: like Renan Demirkan in black tea with three pieces of sugar, one likes to choose a framework - reading trip, prison, clinic or vacation stay - and uses, at times somewhat violently, every nothingness as an occasion to associate episodes from the past. Other, rather rare, large formats are, for example, Dals Europastr. 5, a kind of adventure novel, or Ören's Berlin trilogy, the saga of a proletarian city street. The popular pseudo-autobiographical social reports, such as those by Saliha Scheinhardt, risk fading to sheer catalogs of problems, grateful objects for intercultural pedagogy. Linguistic creativity, on the other hand, wit and the art of fiction - oriental, so the cliché would have it - in the thrillers of Pirinçci and in Life is a Caravanserai by E. S. Özdamar, there uninhibited, here channeled through the fantasy world of an adolescent. In Berlin Savignyplatz (1995), Ören begins to play with milieu and staff from earlier works, with reality and fiction. It is the poetry that expresses the state of mind particularly concisely, openly, even accusingly: inferiority complex, injured pride, cultural conflict, the feeling of not really being accepted here or there, in between, double man.

Everything is still in flux. As a contemporary reader one makes value judgments and has to admit to them. Everywhere committed literature, everywhere pleading for women, but hardly for Islam. On the other side of the Rhine, however, developments can be seen more clearly than on this side, because the work there began in succession from two historical events, from the formation of nations in the Maghreb and from the Beur movement in France. German-Turkish literature combines the peculiarities of the two francophone generations, namely the relationship to the old homeland and to the new. It acts as a bridge. Their authors speak less on their own behalf than the Beurs, they see themselves as spokesmen for the speechless. The world of work is more important to them than the local living situation. But one bears witness here as there, ethnography. The perspective is more limited than that of the Maghrebians, and unlike the latter, the experimental literature of modern and postmodern is not a challenge for Beurs and German-Turks. Not only the didactic intention may be responsible for this, but also the island position of the Turkish-language literature as a whole. The narrative conventions are not questioned. No originality at any price. German Turks and Beurs have only found a connection to the literary scene in isolated cases. All in all, minoritarian literatures for the time being. The fact that masterpieces are rare is explained by the comparatively narrow reservoir.

We should now move from macroscopy to microscopy and confront individual texts with one another. For example, how the language of the other is dealt with here and there, why people write at all and for whom, that can only be seen exactly in this way. At least we were able to define the framework for this.

Prof. Dr. Arnold Rothe, Romance Seminar, Seminarstr. 3, 69117 Heidelberg,
Telephone (06221) 54 27 61