The German Obama?

"Hopefully". Image posted on Flickr by Cenk Özbakir.

When an ethnic Turk was elected leader of the Green Party in Germany on Saturday, the international press immediately christened him "The German Obama". But a German with Turkish parents tells us, "I hadn't even thought about comparing them".

After months of mounting media hype, Obama's election two weeks ago left the international press somewhat deflated. No wonder then, when Cem Özdemir, a German politician with Turkish parents, was voted joint-leader of the German Green Party, the papers immediately compared him with US President-elect Barack Obama. It was even rumoured that his campaign team had set up a Facebook group under the name "Yes We Cem".

With a population of almost three million, the Turkish community is the largest minority in Germany. Özdemir, who was born and brought up in the southwest of the country, is the first from any minority group to lead a political party - and one that is relatively successful: between 1998 and 2005 the Green Party formed a part of the coalition government. If it were to happen again, Özdemir would become an MP. However, despite "Cemamia", the 42-year-old is not impressed. In an interview with Germany's Bild am Sonntag, he dismissed comparisons with Obama as "inappropriate".


"He's more German than Turkish"

Döndü Yilmaz is a doctor from Dusseldorf. Her parents emigrated from Ankara 30 years ago. She prefers to remain anonymous.

This is no big surprise. For young, educated people like me, we study here, we work here - it's like everyone is equal. It's a natural consequence of the past 50 years. Turkish people originally came just to do cheap labour, and now the children of those people have the chance to make something. It's really quite normal.

I hadn't even thought about comparing him with Barack Obama. You can see as soon as you look at him that he's Turkish but it's not like being black in America. The history there is much more difficult. It seems there are still daily problems and prejudices. They seem to think calling the White House the Black House is funny - we would never say something like that! In Germany we were really really sorry for what happened in the World Wars - people still feel ashamed, so I guess we try to compensate for that.

I think the less-educated Turkish people here will vote for Cem because he brings them hope that he'll do something for them. They believe him more than they trust German people. But I don't think he'd get enough support to overrule the other major parties. I wouldn't vote for him because I'm not a Green Party supporter. I wouldn't vote for him just because he's Turkish. He's more German than Turkish anyway."



Events in Caucasus is topic of "Circassian Day” in European Parliament
NEWS : Adygs of Europe will express their position in relation to the events in South Ossetia and Abkhazia during carrying out of "Circassian Day” in the European Parliament on October, 6th of this year. That action, the third one organized, is planned by the Federation of European Circassians and the deputy of the European Parliament, Adygs by origin, Cem Ozdemir.

In the results of the Day, it was informed in the information received by “Caucasian unit” correspondent from the Federation of European Circassians, after a meeting with Hans-Gert Pottering, the president of the European Parliament, and then a briefing with the members of the European Parliament of the major political groups, the briefing with the delegate from Abkhazia takes place.

The topic of the recent developments in the region will be also discussed by the scientists invited to participation in the action. So the theme “Geopolitical features of Circassia throughout history and an interpretation of recent developments in the region” will be analyzed by Lars Funch Hanssen, Research Scient., Center for Caucasus Studies, Uresund University,Denmark, Sefer E. Berzeg, lawyer, author and activist, Turkey, Irma Kreiten, Ph.D in History, Southampton University, UK.

The question "Who are the Circassians?" should be answered by John Colarusso, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Department of Linguistics and Languages, McMaster University, Canada; "Preservation and Promotion of the Circassian Language" will be described by Leonard Orban, EU Commissioner for Multilingualism.

Let's note, Cem Ozdemir was in Maykop in October of the last year. He, the deputy of the European Parliament from "Green" party of Germany, participated in the II international scientifically-practical conference "Prospects of Development of Especially Protected Natural Territories and Tourism in Northern Caucasus", taken place in Adygeya capital.

“I was born in Germany, - he explained during that visit at the meeting with the local intelligency and public, - and I was elected the deputy from the German people. But I am a Circassian by origin, here I have my father being present (corr.: Abdulla Ozdemir) who was born in Turkey. Therefore in the European Parliament I also support resolution of the questions concerned Turkey. The great-grandfather of my father was from these places, and I am proud of that I can consider myself not only a deputy from Germany, from Turkey, but also from Adygeya”.


by admin posted on 07/10/2008.


my Parents are originally from KAYSERI (Turkey), but my grandgrandfather is from Nalchik(Kabardino-Balkaria).

I was born in Germany and now I’m studying Industrial Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt.

I met Cem Özdemir a few weeks ago in Frankfurt. We talked a little bit about integration problems in Germany and a few words about the „Circassian Day“ in the Europen Parlament in October’08.

It doesn’t surpise me, that Cem has this great succes, as a „Circassian Turkish German“, cause he showed us, that now he is able to do this job, much better than any other. In my opinion many turkish students and politically interested turkish youth will support Cem in the elections at 2009.

Much more than ever before will join the green party. The turkish minority has to keep this chance to make a change, and i hope, that they will use this chance.

If the other partys, like SPD and CDU, won’t change their inefficient way, so CEM will be electeted chancellor one day.

But this will take time.. A few years maybe..

Last, but not least:

I will vote for the green party and for CEM ÖZDEMIR, cause:

-I’m circassian, like CEM
-I’m turkish, like CEM
-I’m german, like CEM

SO =>>> i say: „YES WE CEM“ :) ☺ ☺

Tufan Yildiz (22, Darmstadt)

A Forward, Circassia!


The critical difference here

The critical difference here is that despite his father's background as an African immigrant to America, Barack Obama's symbolic position is firmly within that of the race dialectic in American history. This division is foundational in the American Republic, from slavery to the Civil War, to the Civil Rights Movement. The condition of African Americans is not comparable to that of Turks in Germany or any other post-colonial minorities in Europe. This is because African Americans are NOT immigrants struggling for recognition in a new society. Black people built America from the ground up, and are inseparable from the creation of the nation state. The active discrimination against them is more accurately comparable to that of Turkish discrimination of their own ethnic minorities, the Kurds and the Armenians. The day we see an Armenian politician rise in Turkey it will be appropriate to raise the Obama comparison once more.

German Race Issues

I can't agree with the last comments. There are still many prejudices in Germany. Being half Indian half German I find this each time I return to Germany. Negative comments come from a number of sources including educated middle class people.

Still I don't think it is a surprise that Cem Özdemir has been elected as a leader of the Green Party. As a party they would not have any problems with ethnicity.

I do think it is sad though that the whole world is patting their backs about the first black president elect or the first black formula one champion. The world should be ashamed that it hasn't moved on well before this. And by the way like myself, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods and Lewis Hamilton are all of mixed race. To class us in a particular way takes away part of our identity!

The colour of our skin, our hair, our eyes all points in some ways to our ethnic identity, but was there ever a time when such a big fuss was made about the first green-eyed or blond-haired person to be elected?

This is because African

This is because African Americans are NOT immigrants struggling for recognition in a new society. Black people built America from the ground up, and are inseparable from the creation of the nation state. They are not a cancer like stated above.

RE: The German Obama?

I'm mildly surprised that Cem Özdemir should achieve this success. He's certainly a good politician and has deserved it.
It shows that the integration of people with a migrational background into German society is far more advanced than the pessimists and critics would want us to believe.


The German Obama?

The German Obama? Not quite. Some voters, or at least I, still haven't forgotten his improper use of frequent flier miles, and was taught early on in school that "ignorance of the law is now excuse".