Germany passes motion to review Turkish far-right group Grey Wolves

(Updates with Özdemir's comments, new information throughout)

The German parliament has passed a motion calling for the ultra-nationalist Turkish group known as the Grey Wolves to be banned following a similar move in France, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Thursday.

In the motion, Germany’s governing coalition members, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), as well as opposition parties Free Democrat Party (FDP) and the Greens, accused the Grey Wolves of harbouring a racist, anti-semitic and anti-democracy ideology, and posing a threat to national security in Germany, DW said in an earlier report.

The motion also calls for close monitoring of the group, the countering their activities “resolutely within the means of the rule of law,” and support for groups and individuals targeted by the Grey Wolves in Germany, Europe and Turkey “in the best way possible.”

Germany’s Interior Ministry will now investigate the group’s activities, including associations and other social structures connected with the movement, and decide whether they will be banned or not.

“Our demand is that the federal government take action before the Grey Wolves hurt more people,” Cem Özdemir, a Turkish-German deputy from the Greens, told DW.

Grey Wolves is the name more often used In Europe to refer to the Idealist Hearths (Ülkü Ocakları), the de facto youth organisation of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The animal is chosen as a symbol because of its important role in the Turkic peoples’ origin myth as a guide out of captivity.

MHP and the Grey Wolves were heavily associated with political violence that swept Turkey in the 1970s, targeting leftist activists and ethnic minorities in assaults, murders and arsons. The MHP is currently allied with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament.

The group has been active in Germany for more than four decades, and should have been banned a long time ago, Özdemir told DW. The current reaction against the group follows their increased visibility recently, including in protests against the Armenian community and the defacing of a genocide monument in France, he added.

On Nov. 1, unknown persons defaced a memorial to the victims of the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Anatolia, writing “Grey Wolf” and “RTE”, the initials of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in bright yellow. On Nov. 4, France took steps to prohibit the group’s activities with the threat of fines and imprisonment.

The founder of the MHP, Alparslan Türkeş, was a Hitler sympathiser, Özdemir told DW, adding, “If Erdoğan is still president in Turkey, that is thanks to MHP.”

Özdemir said the motion was a clear message to Ankara, where Erdoğan “makes more and more concessions to Turkish racists and the extreme right because he needs them to remain in government.”

Calling Erdoğan “the tyrant of the Bosporus,” Özdemir said the next government in Germany should show zero tolerance to “the hybrid threat in Germany,” referring to the ties between the Grey Wolves and the Turkish government.

The extreme right and its ideology has been allowed to spread without any restrictions in Turkey, which has “turned into an authoritarian mafia state,” Özdemir said, “showing once again that the decision we made in the Federal Parliament was necessary and important.”