FDP head Christian Lindner even went so far as to demand that Mesut Ozil ought to sing along with the German national anthem, because otherwise it would indicate an evident "identity problem that then leads to integration problems". To make matters worse, Lindner then invoked the German constitution. But the constitution mentions neither the national anthem nor any obligation to sing along with it.
The truth is that the large group of Germans with immigrant roots – who in the meantime make up almost a quarter of the population – have the right to define their own identity.
Such identities are sometimes complex: Mesut Ozil was born in Gelsenkirchen as a German of Turkish origin and played with FC Schalke, became a global star and then led Germany to its World Cup triumph in 2014; as a devout Muslim, he prays before each game and makes the pilgrimage to Mecca.
This is just as unworthy of note as the fact that he has not sung the German national anthem for years because of his background. The topic has only come up since Seehofer, Lindner and their ilk decided that they are the ones to determine what is German and what is not – exclusively, without the immigrants having any say in the matter.
Ozil, in particular, has often been labelled an "example of successful integration", including by the German Football Association DFB. But why does this even have to be certified for a German who, like Ozil and Gundogan, was born and grew up in Gelsenkirchen? The fact that he met with the Turkish president has nothing to do with it at any rate. It may be politically misguided and inappropriate for a national player who functions as a role model, but it is downright absurd to turn this incident into a debate on integration. Not to mention the fact that the right to freedom of expression also applies to Gundogan and Ozil – a right that is prominently enshrined in the constitution, unlike the national anthem.
Grist to the revisionistsʹ mill
Revisionist and racist stances have long since become socially acceptable in Germany – now the national football team has become a target. Beyond the legitimate criticism, Gundogan has also reported receiving some offensive insults after the meeting with Erdogan.
Following Alexander Gauland's racist "neighbour" remark against Jerome Boateng, the AfD party once again made the news with further openly racist insults. Alice Weidel, chair of the AfD parliamentary group, told the right-wing weekly newspaper Junge Freiheit: "They would do better to try their luck on the Turkish national team."