In Germany, Ozil racism row sparks #MeTwo debate
SINGAPORE: Mesut Ozil fired Arsenal to a 5-1 friendly win over Paris Saint-Germain yesterday as he cast aside a turbulent week after quitting Germany’s national team claiming racism. Ozil put Arsenal ahead in the 13th minute before Alexandre Lacazette’s quickfire double and late strikes from Rob Holding and Eddie Nketiah against a youthful PSG side. The International Champions Cup win in Singapore was also a boost for Arsenal’s new manager Unai Emery against his former club, now under Germany’s Thomas Tuchel.
Ozil, named as captain after his torrid week, was quickly into his stride with midfield partner Henrikh Mkhitaryan against a PSG line-up shorn of its World Cup stars. He opened the scoring with a tap-in at the far post after Mkhitaryan released Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in space and the Gabonese forward passed back across the face. Ozil’s exquisite flick during a length-of-the pitch move nearly produced Arsenal’s second but Gianluigi Buffon saved well from Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi. The Italian great also denied Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, while at the other end teenager Timothy Weah twice went close and Christopher Nkunku curled one over.
After the break, an Nkunku free kick drew a flying save from Arsenal substitute Emiliano Martinez, before Weah went down for a 59th-minute penalty which Nkunku converted with aplomb. But Lacazette hit back with two goals in four minutes-first a sumptuous, near-post heel-flick which sailed past the nonplussed Buffon, and then a close-range header. Substitute defender Holding added the fourth with a towering header on 87 minutes, before Nketiah swept home Arsenal’s fifth with the last kick of the game. Ozil, who is of Turkish heritage, sent shockwaves through Germany this week when he quit the national team complaining of “racism and disrespect” from football authorities.
Meanwhile, thousands of people in Germany with migrant backgrounds are sharing stories of everyday discrimination under the hashtag #MeTwo, inspired by football star Mesut Ozil’s resignation from Germany’s national team over racism. “When I’m the only-non white person in a crowded train and the police gets in, I’m the only one who is asked to show ID,” tweeted Der Spiegel reporter Hasnain Kazim, as the discussion trended on German Twitter Friday.
The campaign was launched earlier this week by Turkish-origin author and rights activist Ali Can, who dubbed it #MeTwo – a play on the #MeToo movement that highlights women’s experiences of sexual harassment, and a comment by Ozil about having “two hearts”. Ozil dropped a bombshell on Sunday when he announced in a stinging letter that he would no longer play for Germany after he faced racist abuse for posing for a picture alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” wrote Ozil, who accused the German Football Federation (DFB) of failing to stand up for him after critics questioned his patriotism and singled him out for blame after Germany’s World Cup flop. The controversy has prompted heated debate in German media about racism and integration. “We need a #MeToo debate for people with a migrant background,” Can, who has lived in Germany since he was a toddler, said in a video posted online on Tuesday.
“I am more than just one identity. I feel at home in Germany… at the same I can feel connected to another country,” he said. “The two sides blend together, one doesn’t exclude the other.” The #MeTwo hashtag quickly went viral as thousands posted about their run-ins with prejudice and racism in Germany. “You’re well integrated for a Turk” and “Don’t you wear a headscarf?” were cited as “classic examples” of remarks endured by Twitter user Hatdische Indsche. Many also complained about discrimination from landlords in the search for a flat or house, because of their skin color or foreign-sounding names.
“When you can’t get an answer, but your German girlfriend gets instant replies to the same offer. After we got married and she changed her name, she stopped getting answers too,” wrote Twitter user Oguz Yilmaz. Malcolm Oscar Uzoma Odeh-Ohanwe, who tweets as MalcolmMusic, recounted being called “a monkey” at high school years ago when he was a dread-locked teenager. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas praised the campaign, saying it was “impressive and painful” to see how many stories were flooding in. “If you think racism in Germany is no longer a problem, I recommend reading through all the #MeTwo tweets,” he tweeted. “Let us raise our voice with them: against racism, anytime, anywhere.”- Agencies