Turkish-Germans press Berlin to allow dual citizenship
Representatives of Germany’s large Turkish community have criticized a new citizenship test that takes effect in September and are urging Chancellor Merkel’s government to allow Turkish-Germans to hold dual nationality.
Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany said in an interview with Cologne-based daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on Tuesday he was fundamentally opposed to a new citizenship test that will be introduced in September and test applicants' knowledge of the country’s history, politics and society. "We don’t find the test a good idea at all," Kolat said.
The German government said last month it was introducing the test as an additional step to screening candidates applying for a German passport.
Kolat said the 310 formulaic multiple-choice questions published by the interior ministry tested not only knowledge of Germany but "to some extent also attitudes."
At 2.3 million, Turks make up the largest group of immigrants in Germany, and have long pushed for the right to keep both Turkish and German passports. Around 340,000 people over 18 will soon face the tough decision of choosing between German or Turkish citizenship, Kolat warned, adding that many young Turkish-Germans who had grown up in Germany continued to have a strong Turkish identity.
In 2000, Germany reformed its citizenship laws which had previously only recognized the principle of nationality by blood. The reform now allows foreigners who have lived in Germany for eight years to apply for naturalization. But the original plan to allow their children born in Germany to automatically become German failed in the face of fierce opposition by conservative parties. As a compromise, it was decided that naturalized children would have to decide at the age of 18 whether they wanted to keep their German passport or their foreign one.
Some point out that being forced to choose between nationalities could mean a conflict of identity and loyalties.
"To feel like a Berliner, an Istanbul resident, a Turk – these aren’t contradictions,“ said Serdar Yazar, chairman of the Turkish Student Organization,
Posted on 07/08/2008 11:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax