Neo-Nazi trials vs. Turkish court cases: Irrelevant comparison

Neo-Nazi trials vs. Turkish court cases: Irrelevant comparison

Apparently, some of our German colleagues have recently been curious about the procedures that are being followed in the press coverage of especially famous court cases.

I was asked how press accreditation works at the famous Silivri court, which coincidentally again witnessed clashes yesterday between police and the crowds that came to follow it. “There is no accreditation, it is based on a first-come-first-served system,” I replied. The curiosity was obviously triggered by the controversy that erupted following the distribution of media accreditations for the approaching trial of the last surviving member of the NSU neo-Nazi terror trio, which murdered eight people of Turkish descent in the 2000s.

The court followed a first-come-first-served system, the result of which is that not a single Turkish media outlet guaranteed a seat in the courtroom.

Making a comparison about the press accreditation procedures of legal cases between Turkey and Germany is irrelevant; for the simple reason that on the one side we are talking about an EU member country, which is a member of the 27 nation block supposedly because it has reached universal democratic standards; while on the other side we are talking about a country that has not become an EU member, precisely because it has not yet reached those democratic standards. Therefore, the “How can they criticize us when Turks do the same?” sort of thinking cannot justify the German court’s decision.

Still, the court did not actually intentionally exclude the Turkish press from the trial that begins on April 17 in Munich. My understanding is that the representatives of the Turkish press in Germany were late in applying to make it onto the list, which was limited to 50 seats. Of course, the Turkish press should have been more vigilant, but the largest share of the blame goes to the German court.

The NSU murders case is highly publicized in Germany. Choosing a small courtroom (when I am told larger court rooms were available), which automatically limits the number of those who will be present during the trial, was a mistake. Resisting making any exception to allow Turkish publications to also follow the trial was another mistake. These decisions raise question marks about the inner motivations of the German courts. Does it reflect a mentality that tries to minimize a big shame? If so, having that type of mentality is a big shame in itself. After all, this whole NSU murders case is about mentality.

That there existed a neo-Nazi cell that killed Turks just because they were Turks, already attests to the presence of a sick mentality, which one hopes is limited to a small section of the German people. What makes this case so crucial is the suspicion that this mentality is present in the security forces, which chose to close their eyes and thus enable the cell to continue the murders for 10 years without being detected.

It is up to the state officials to fight against dangerous mentalities that might exist in a society. Yet if those officials are themselves sympathetic to these mentalities, then the situation becomes extremely terrifying. That’s why the stance of the court is extremely significant.

Let me finish by saluting those members of the German press who voiced strong criticism of the court decision and showed solidarity by offering their seats to their Turkish colleagues.