A German-Turkish NGO Aims to Dispel Stereotypes
"It's important to us to promote a more positive picture of Turkish people in society," said 17-year-old Ramia Özal, a member of the "DeuKische Generation," whose name is composed from a mix of the words Deutsch (German) and Türkisch (Turkish). "And that's why we've decided to set up this association."
The DeuKische Generation has around 100 members, 30 of whom are very active. Though most of the members are Turkish between the ages of 15 and 30, more and more German youth are showing an interest in them, the group said.
They plan to run television commercials that play with stereotypes as well as organize a fair to help parents whose German skills are poor to register their kids for sports and music clubs, something they might otherwise have difficulty doing.
Language seen as key
Many of the group's members say that not speaking German, or not speaking it well, is one of the biggest problems for Turkish immigrants and their children. Others say the educational system is too rigid and makes it hard for immigrant children to integrate themselves into German society.
Taha Baskan, a 21-year-old, said the language tests to become a German citizen were too difficult and that, in general, the hurdles to becoming German were too high.
"The citizenship laws should be relaxed to encourage integration, because one of the clearest signs of that is having a German passport," he said.
"Germany has become our home"
Besides having German language skills, applicants for citizenship must have lived legally in Germany for at least eight years. They may not have a criminal record and must show they can financially support themselves and their families.
In any case, a multicultural society is the way of the future, said Zeynep Balazümbül, one of the founders of "DeuKische Generation," adding that she hoped Germany would become one in the next 30 years.
"That is actually the only future I see for the country, because we are an essential part of this society," Balazümbül said. "We are here to stay. We belong here and it's become our home."
© Deutsche Welle 2007