Mesut Ozil has been urged to “fight fascist and racist attacks” in Turkey and around the world by former Germany youth international Deniz Naki.
The Arsenal star announced his international retirement from Germany citing ‘disrespect and racism’ in a three-part statement on Sunday which came in the wake of criticism of the midfielder’s World Cup performance and his pre-tournament meeting with controversial Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ozil’s decision has been backed by some of his team-mates at club and country level, but former St Pauli and Genclerbirligi midfielder Naki believes he should do more to highlight injustices in Turkey and around the world.
“In your statement, you are justified in responding to the racism you have encountered and your reasons for leaving the national team,” Naki wrote on Instagram.
“But why you are not showing this response when there are more and more racist and fascist attacks in Turkey on me or on Kurdish or other minority footballers?”
A German-born Kurd, Naki most recently played for Turkey Second League side Amed but was banned from playing professional football in the country for three years in January for spreading ‘separatist and ideological propaganda.’
Earlier that month, the 28-year-old was shot at while driving on the Autobahn in Germany, later claiming that the attempt on his life was politically motivated due to his outspoken statements on Erdogan, who he referred to as an ‘ideological lawbreaker.’
“I think that this is about a political issue,” Naki told Bento. “I am a continual target in Turkey because I make pro-Kurdish statements.”
Naki’s Instagram post to Ozil also asked him where he stood on Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish people within its borders, where the Turkish government has banned the use of the words ‘Kurds’, ‘Kurdish’ and even ‘Kurdistan’ itself.
The former Germany Under-19 international urged Ozil to make a stand against racism in Turkey against the Kurdish people, but also racism globally, claiming fascists are ‘everywhere.’
“You say you find the explanations of the DFB wrong,” Naki continued.
“In Turkey, a footballer’s career was ended: a person standing for peace was labeled as a terrorist. What was your reaction in this regard?
“Why do those who see you as ‘native’ and ‘national’ in Turkey see me as a ‘terrorist’? Why do those who support your ‘Turkish existence’ accept it but not my ‘Kurdishness’?
“Those who will welcome you with open arms on your next trip to Turkey will be exactly the same people who have racially attacked me. There is no distinction between fascists, they are the same everywhere, in every country.
“I urge you not only to fight against fascism and racism in Germany, but also against any kind of it in the world.
“I urge you to bring attention to the Kurds in Turkey facing racism and also to combat it.”
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