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“I don’t want to be German anymore”: Idil Baydar

INTERVIEW: A "Turkxit", 'Multikulti is dead'... fearless comedian Baydar – and her character Jilet Ayse – has a lot to say about the situation of Turkish-Germans today. See for yourself at show "Ghettolektual" through Aug 17 at Bar Jeder Vernuft.

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Photo by Cengiz Karahan

“When does integration stop? Do I need an integration certificate!?” Jilet Ayse, eyes bulging with intense anger, yells at her audiences, often singling out “German-Germans” or Kartoffeln who, squirming in their seats, are unable to provide a response. Jilet is the stage name of outrageous, fearless comedian Idil Baydar, who sardonically describes herself as passdeutsch (passport-German, rather than Turkish-German) is decisively sick of being labelled “migrant” even though she was born in the country. Baydar performs regularly to audiences around Germany and delivered hilarious ranting monologues in Elfriede Jelinek’s recent DeutschesSchauSpielHausHamburg Theater piece Am Königsweg, which was subsequently performed at this year’s Theatertreffen. Her videos attract tens of thousands of views, including a viral video lashing out at Germany’s treatment of footballer Mesut Özil (see below) who was targeted by a partially racist shitstorm for posing with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May. Baydar performs her new show Ghettolektuell at Bar Jeder Vernuft through Friday, August 17.

Part of Jilet’s personality is her exaggerated aggression…

A lot of women like this character because she does exactly what society doesn’t expect from a woman. But, honestly, I think it’s also Turkish humour: they laugh about stuff like that. It’s a very typical immigrant type of humour. I’d say the Germans, they always try to make the more intelligent jokes, jokes directed upwards. But with the Turks, the most vulgar jokes wins.

But your humour is also popular with the “potatoes”. During your live shows you look members of the audience directly in the face and shout things like “Do I need an integration Abi (high school diploma)?” And people just sit there not knowing what to say.

Because nobody ever asks these questions. That’s what Jilet Ayse provides: a change of perspective in a way that’s comfortable. The problem is that Germans are in denial about their own racism, and so therefore they don’t talk about it. Look at the US, even though racism is even worse there, people seem to take it more seriously. Here they don’t. Someone can call you Ziegenficker (“goat fucker”) or Kanacke (“wog”) with no consequences. I pressed charges against someone who told me to “Verpiss dich, Kanackenfotze” (“piss off, wog cunt”) but the police wouldn’t take me seriously. We had to discuss the word “discrimination” for 30 hours. And, of course, they dismissed the charges. Which brings us to the NSU (National Socialist Underground) murders. The NSU-murders were and are a huge trauma for us Turkish-Germans – but they are keeping the NSU files secret for 120 years! Which basically means that you can kill us and then have your fascism protected by the Verfassungsschutz (domestic secret service) for 120 years. Anyone can, more or less, murder us, without there being any consequences.

You say that insults against Turks have gotten worse this year. Why now?

That’s an interesting question. I think there is a structural explanation for it. Europe wants to close its gates and Turkey isn’t supposed to belong to Europe. There seems to be a collective understanding that one no longer wants to have the Turks in Europe.

But there are millions of Germans with Turkish roots living here.

It’s not going to work. This thing isn’t going to work.

What thing?

The thing with integration. The thing with Multikulti. It’s over.

You’re very pessimistic.

It’s not pessimism. It’s just my observation of how Germany communicates with me as a “non-German”. I’m called a “migrant”. I was born here and I grew up here. Where’s the “migrant”? Now the ball’s in the Germans’ court. We’ve done our part. It’s not going to work. The one thing Germany is really guilty of: hypocrisy. What I would like most is if we asked the German people, the German-German people: “Do you want to have Turks living here in Germany?” I’m convinced that only a minority would say “yes”. We have to be honest: it’s not going to work. We have to find a way out, a “Turkxit”.

You don’t really mean that, do you?

I’m serious!

Also people like you who were born here?

Yep, exactly. I have to go to another country, where I’ll be an actual migrant.

That’s incredibly sad.

It’s sad, but otherwise more innocent people are going to die. The NSU was really a shock. The way the whole thing was handled is a shock. It’s a shock that no one is receiving compensation for damages.

But you’re very popular: doesn’t that give you a little bit of hope?

I think there are a lot of people who see things the same way. There are quite a lot of Germans who aren’t fascists. And that’s great and I’m making a video where I differentiate between “potatoes” and “sweet potatoes”.

German footballer Philipp Lahm is also a sweet potato, I heard.

Yes, he is! They need to have an opportunity to show solidarity with us through words, through language. At the end of the day we need to ask ourselves two questions – every single day: Do I want to live in distrust, fear, hatred, poverty and fascism? Or do I want live in trust, love, compassion, in happiness, in diversity? For as long as I can I will always check the box next to “love” and continue to make my videos. If you come to my show you will experience something very rare: German-Germans and migrants sitting in one room. That’s why this show is so important: it’s the only way to show that I choose love. This doesn’t mean that I’m not seeing what’s going on! The majority of society has no reason to be scared. We migrants have cause to be scared. As long as the Germans don’t reflect on their racist, colonialist thinking, there’s no chance it’s going to work. The white, privileged position strongly relies on the degradation of others. There’s still a huge Hitler fetish here, as in watching Hitler documentaries twice a day. It’s a fetish, and has nothing to do with confronting one’s history.

You’re considering moving to Turkey…

Yes, I might try it out. With my German passport – I am “passdeutsch” – I can live in quite a few countries. I don’t want to be German any more. Since the Özil thing, it’s over.

Idil N. Baydar aka Jilet Ayse: Ghettolektuell, through Aug 17, 20:00 | Bar jeder Vernunft, Wilmersdorf