Apr 24 2019

Turkish girl’s dream to be German citizen sparks online debate

A Turkish girl who said in a live television interview on Tuesday that she wanted to study medicine in Germany and become a German citizen has spurred a public debate on Turkey’s “brain drain” and the success of the ruling party. 

The girl was speaking on NTV news channel during a special live broadcast marking Apr. 23, Turkey’s National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.

“I want to study medicine at the Cologne University,” the girl said when the presenter asked her academic plans for the future. “Maybe after that I can become a German citizen.”

Her answer shocked the presenter, who laughed nervously and said “no,” before saying that no boundaries should be imposed on children’s dreams on Apr. 23.

The video clip soon went viral on Turkish social media, with many offering their own perspective. 

“If a children of ours, who looks at the future with hopes, wants to study in Germany and become a German citizen to fulfil her dreams, then particularly us, the politicians, should shake ourselves and reflect on this deeply,” Mustafa Yeneroğlu, a lawmaker of the Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on Twitter. 

“Our young people should realise their dreams in Turkey. For our dream for Turkey becoming a more free, participatory, diverse, prosperous country in unity, the issue should be to come up with a social understanding by putting ourselves in the place of all others that do not think, believe, and want to live the way we do,” he said.

However, not everyone was as reconciliatory as the AKP lawmaker. According to Burhan Kuzu, a senior member of the AKP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chairman of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the reason why the young girl had such a dream.

“Turkey’s opposition, which continues to complain about Turkey in Europe, has shown Turkey as a monster to our child who wants to leave Turkey and study abroad and then become a German citizen,” Kuzu said on Twitter.  

For many others, such dreams were the results of the AKP’s Islamist rule, which in recent years prompted an outflow of Turkey’s high-skilled people leaving the country due to escalating authoritarianism and downturn in economy.

“You can praise yourself for your work. You darkened the future of this country,” said journalist Kadri Gürsel. 

Some recalled the "The Emperor's New Clothes”, a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, in which it was left to a child to reveal that the king was naked. 

“On this day that was a gift by Atatürk to children, a child saying ‘I want to be a German citizen’, has slapped the face of the disgusting, pious, and vindictive regime they have created in 17 years,” said Hüseyin Aygün, a former lawmaker of the CHP.

On Children’s Day, Turkey also heard the news of a five-year old girl who was raped in Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece district and was under intensive care. Some said on social media that Turkish children were right to dream of living elsewhere in a country that failed to protect them.

Others targeted the school the young girl was attending; the Darüşşafakka High School, which has been providing quality education to orphaned children since 1863. Some on social media reminded the school that its own founding principles said its mission was to teach students their responsibilities to the country and to Turkish people.