Head of Turkish institute in Germany resigns after Holocaust remark

16th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Academic quits institution after describing Turks as "the new Jews in Europe" to portray their situation

Berlin -- The head of Germany's best known institute for Turkish studies is to resign his post following remarks earlier this year comparing the situation of Turks in Germany and other European countries with that of Jews in the Nazi era.

Faruk Sen, 60, said on Tuesday that he would be devoting his efforts to establishing a new German-Turkish university in the Turkish city of Izmir.

The Interior Ministry of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which funds the Essen-based Centre for Turkish Studies, said Sen's resignation would take effect at the end of the year, but that it was releasing him to work on the new university.

The institute announced in June that it was sacking Sen with immediate effect for saying that Turks suffered discrimination similar to that suffered by the Jews in the Holocaust and for previous remarks that presented a distorted picture of relations between Turks and Germans in Germany.

Turks had "become the new Jews in Europe," he said.

Sen, who had led the well-known institute since its founding in 1985, had contributed to polarisation, rather than integration, the institute's central aim, it said.

Sen responded by saying he would take legal steps against the institute.

The offending remarks were made in an article published in May in the Turkish newspaper Referans.

Sen subsequently distanced himself from the article and apologised. His apology was accepted by senior Jewish representatives in Germany, who offered Sen their support.

German media reports said Sen's position at the institute he had played an instrumental role in establishing had become indefensible.

"He was king in his own kingdom," migration expert Eberhard Seidel told the daily Berliner Zeitung in remarks published on Tuesday.

"Many wanted to see him stumble, and the allegation of anti-Semitism was a sure way to do it."

The newspaper said Sen had not led the institute as a team and that his relations with the staff of 20 had long been troubled.


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