Turkish Nationalistic „Grey Wolves“ Attack Women in Austria

On June 22, Turkish nationalist extremists attacked a women’s rally in Vienna. The Turkish ultra-nationalist “Gray Wolves” regularly intimidate minorities.

The noise from the police helicopters was heard until late at night yesterday. For a long time there was no peace on the streets of Vienna’s district „Favoriten“, where a high number of the Turkish community live.

It all started with a rally by a Kurdish women’s organization. The participants wanted to point out the increasing number of female murders in Turkey and Austria. Then the women were attacked by a group of Turkish male, members of the „Grey Wolves“. Around a hundred right-wing extremists emerged within a very short time, and the police were deployed on a large scale. The women fled to a building nearby and had to wait there for hours for security reasons.

Not the first attack

It was not the first attack in the district. Similar incidents occurred on May 1 at the edge of a rally at Keplerplatz. And a pattern emerges: The far-right group of young men does not seem to be afraid of the security forces, who were even supported by two police helicopters last night.

Two to three young people can grow from fifty to a hundred in a matter of minutes. They act as owners and guards of Favoriten and want to supervise their district. They prohibit residents and event visitors from consuming alcohol during the Muslim month of Ramadan. They try to displace Kurdish music and language from the public. They are also happy to incite the police to Turkish-Kurdish participants in events – assuming that they are supporters of the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party). They confidently accuse the police and the Austrian state of leaving public space to a terrorist organization. They mobilize each other on their cell phones and are divided into hierarchical roles.

Role model Erdoğan

The group’s world view is shaped by the political ideas of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They position themselves as his defenders and are not afraid to make the „wolf salute“, prohibited in Austria in the presence of the police.

Turkish President Erdogan using the right-wing Grey Wolves salute

How can it be that young people who were born in Vienna and Austria live such unreflected racist Turkish ideas and generalized hatred? Unfortunately, the ubiquitous discrimination in Austria favors the propaganda of the Turkish right-wing extremists. Young people who regularly experience exclusions according to the motto “You are and can be with us (but you will never be one of us”) can never feel equal and treated equally. This structural and institutional racism prevents a common, pluralistic understanding of democracy across cultural and national(istic) affiliations.

An offer for the excluded

The male “we” narrative à la Erdoğan offers these young people an identity, even if it is constructed and artificial. The relevant messages and the war propaganda from Turkey reach them every day – and are received by them uncritically and without reflection. When confronted by others about their attacks, they declare that despite citizenship and perfect German, they will remain foreigners forever. Their disorientation offers fertile ground for right-wing extremist propaganda.

The youngsters born in Austria take on the megalomania of “Turkishness” across borders. Basic democratic rights apparently have no place in it. That is why they attack marginalized groups from the supposedly “own” cultural circle: Kurds, Alevis and women. For them, their rights are part of the “corrupt Christian strangers” in which they believe they live. Only in the group do they seem to have found a feeling of belonging. They feel strong in the group – but a rally against violence against women becomes unbearable and threatens their male power.

Aggressive inferiority complex

It is an aggressive inferiority complex. Its root is a constructed identity legitimation that is based on Turkish history. It begins in the steppes of Central Asia, continues through the invasion of Anatolia to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and migration to the European diaspora. Various massacres, genocides and defamation in the course of the Turkish nation-state formation a good hundred years ago are part of this legitimation.

The Turkish state doctrine gives them the international privileged status “Turk-Turkish-Sunni-Muslim-Man”. In the defense of the leader and fatherland, any use of force is justified, even far from Turkey. This can also be seen in violent anger against women.

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