100 percent French, 100 percent Turkish

A full 50 years have passed since waves of Turkish immigrants began coming into France to work, and what has emerged over this half-century is a societal group that appears to be neither fully Turkish nor fully French.
But, as Professor Samim AkgandOnandul of Strasbourg University notes, this is a group that is both 100 percent French, and 100 percent Turkish.
The Turks that began leaving Turkey to work in Europe in the 1960s headed not only for Germany but also to France. Today, there are some 500,000 people living in France who have relations with Turkey, one way or another. This year is an important one for the people of Turkish background who live in France because 50 years have now passed since the worker-migration agreements between Turkey and France were originally signed. We asked historian and political science expert Professor AkgandOnandul, who himself lives in France, to draw us a portrait of the state of ethnic Turks living in France these days.
h2Different types of immigrants, different experiencesh2 AkgandOnandul begins his explanation by noting that there have been roughly three types of immigration waves to France from Turkey. He says that the first of these was the and”mixed immigration group,and” which has an interesting backstory. These waves came during the years when France had a pressing need for a labor force, with factories pushing the state for a certain level of foreign worker help. At the time, the French government worked to fulfill factory requests by looking to a variety of different countries for possible workers. In other words, if there was a sudden need for 500 workers, 150 would be obtained from Turkey, another 100 from Senegal, 50 from Morocco and so on. At the same time, the 100 workers coming in from Turkey would be assigned to different towns and cities throughout France. In this way, a mixed group of immigrants would arrive and form their own group in the city where the factory that had needed workers was located.
The second type of immigration wave is what Professor AkgandOnandul refers to as and”chain immigration,and” wherein a Turk who had come earlier to France to work then brings over his friends andor family members from Turkey. The first wave of and”mixed immigrantsand” was forced to strike up harmonious relations with those around them and was forced to learn the language in order to survive, so their first years in the country were difficult. But the people coming over to France in what the professor calls the and”chain immigrationand” wave had an easier time because there were others like them in the same region and they found solidarity easily, as well as people speaking their own language. Unlike those in the first wave of immigrants, their initial years were easier. But while the children of the and”mixed immigrationand” group had an easier time, because their parents had learned the language and forced themselves to harmonize with society, the offspring of the and”chain immigrationand” waves had a more difficult time. The third group of immigrants is composed of those who left Turkey for another country first and then later decided to move to France.
h2More people from Posof in France than in Posof itselfh2 We ask AkgandOnandul about what sort of practical effects one can see in these differences between the mixed immigrant and the chain immigrant groups. He says: and”There are some spots in France where the population of Turks living in a certain town might be more than the actual place from whence they came in Turkey. For example, there is a town in the northwest of France called Flers. The number of Turks who can trace their origins back to the Turkish town of Posof is more than the Turks who live in Posof in Turkey today. So, we see a brand new Posof has emerged.and”
AkgandOnandul then points to an example from Belgium, the Brussels district of Scharbeck, which is known as a Turkish neighborhood. He notes that the neighborhood is actually almost entirely composed of people from Emirdai in Turkey. He says: and”Ethnic Turks who are not from Emirdai are perceived as foreigners there. Personally, where I live in Strasbourg, the local Turks are almost entirely from Kayseri, Konya and Malatya. They have all formed their own networks there.and”
h2Muslims change attitudes to religion in Franceh2 Of course, religious perspectives also play a critical role in terms of distinguishing these immigrant groups. While immigrant groups in both France and Germany tend to display views similar to native French and German citizens when it comes to the topic of the separation of state and religion, this social group has made more demands on the topic of religion than native citizens. In fact, AkgandOnandul is of the opinion that these demands have caused a secular country like France to become more sensitive in general on matters of religion. At the same time, notes AkgandOnandul, the level of solidarity amongst Muslims in France is actually quite low, aside from shared demands on the practical aspects of religion, such as the construction of new mosques or access to halal butchers. However, a new poll in which Turkish immigrants were asked why they were moving out from outlying districts of the cities to new neighborhoods revealed answers like and”I am earning more moneyand” and and”There were just too many Arabs there.and”
h2Claiming to be from Konya, but 1,000 times more Strasbourgh2 AkgandOnandul points to answers provided by some of his own students who were asked and”Where are you from?and” He notes that not a single one would say and”I am from Strasbourgand” or and”I am from Paris,and” but that they rather answer and”I am from Konyaand” or and”I am from Kayseri.and” But when asked and”So do you like it there,and” the students tend to respond with answers like, and”I donand’t really know, Iand’ve not been there much.and” AkgandOnandul notes that these students are actually 1,000 times more Strasbourg-native than anything else. Perhaps it is more precise to use the term AkgandOnandul uses to describe these immigrants: and”100 percent French and 100 percent Turkish.and”
He adds that since belonging to the majority is not always seen as a positive thing, a lot of these students choose the Turkish identity as their main one, perceiving admission of being French as doing the same thing as having become and”assimilated,and” or even and”degenerated.and”
h2and”Sibeland” used to be popular, but now itand’s more Semanurh2 We ask about the naming process when the children of Turkish immigrants are born in France. AkgandOnandul says: and”In previous years, families would tend to choose names that could be easily pronounced by the French. Names like andlsquoMelis,and’ or andlsquoRana.and’ Or for examples, there are still thousands of Turkish girls named andlsquoSibeland’ living in France. But this began to change after the year 2000. And now we are seeing more names like andlsquoSandumeyye,and’ andlsquoSemanur,and’ andlsquoTuibaand’ and andlsquoKandubraand’.and”
h2I have students who express their Turkish patriotism, but in Frenchh2 As AkgandOnandul sees it, the biggest difference between Turkish immigrants in France and Germany is linguistic, with the majority of Turks living in France having French as their strongest language, unlike their counterparts in Germany. He notes, and”I have some nationalist students, but they express their patriotism for Turkey in French.and”

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman