Opinion

Kaplan Ouster Is Good for All

The deportation to Turkey of radical Islamic leader and accused terrorist Metin Kaplan is good news for Germany, writes DW's Rainer Sollich.

photo: AP
Turkish authorities are now in charge of Kaplan

​​It is mostly only said behind closed doors. But reliable polls show that Germans have an increasing fear of Islam.

It may be a frightening notion, but upon hearing the word "Islam" many Germans automatically think of fanaticism, repression of women, and terrorism. An entire world religion seems to have fallen into disrepute.

This is not only the fault of the media, who often fail to clearly distinguish between believers and self-declared religious warriors. The fault lies above all with religious extremists like Metin Kaplan, who have enormous public influence although they only have a tiny minority of people supporting them.

Rejected by Turks

No question: Kaplan's outlawed "Caliphate State" organization is dangerous and rightfully forbidden as anti-constitutional. But in fact, it is a sect without popular support.

As with the majority of Germans, the majority of Turks and Muslims in Germany reject the machinations of the self styled "Caliph of Cologne." But they suffer because they themselves are either consistently identified with these machinations, or feel they have to have to justify themselves.

It is good that Kaplan has finally been sent out of the country -- even if it seems like it only came about because German justice had to cheat a bit to get it done, given its prior errors.

It is good for the image of Muslims in Germany when someone like Kaplan is no longer shown around in the media as being a meaningful, important Muslim. And even though it came so very late, the deportation is also a confirmation of Germany's image of itself as being a true democracy.

The direction of the judgement is correct, and was already confirmed through previous judgements: Those who endlessly hound Jews, who want to get rid of democracy, and publicly call for murder, have lost their right to stay here.

Test case for Turkey

A lawful state must treat its enemies fairly. But it doesn't need to be mocked by jurisprudence, and it doesn't need to protect its enemies from lawsuits in other countries. Especially when the other country has agreed to a fair trial.

Last Wednesday Kaplan already appeared before a judge in Istanbul to face treason charges over his alleged involvement in a 1998 failed attempt to crash a plane into the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern, secular Turkish state.

For Turkey, the Kaplan case is an extremely important test of reliability. The country must show that its recent justice-system reforms have teeth, and that even treason cases can be tried fairly and smoothly -- as expected from an EU-accession candidate. German Interior Minister Otto Schily says he has no doubt that the trial will be constitutionally valid.

It is rather unlikely that Metin Kaplan himself will be mistreated. Because Ankara is highly aware that the case is in the spotlight in Europe.

The decisive question is rather whether the Turkish legal system will make a case based on six-year old confessions from alleged Kaplan followers -- confessions that, according to German courts, were forced by torture.

If this suspicion can't be purged and other proof isn't found, then the Kaplan case can once more turn into a never ending story. Even in Turkey.

Rainer Sollich

© DEUTSCHE WELLE/DW-WORLD.DE 2004

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