A supporter shows the sign of the Grey Wolves, a Turkish right-wing group, while waiting for the arrival of Turkish President Erdogan during an official visit in Berlin, Germany, 27 September 2018. Photo by EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER BECHER

The Grey Wolves are an informal Turkish right-wing nationalistic group. The group is also active in Germany, where the number of their members/supporters is estimated at more than 10,000.

Many political murders in Turkey have been attributed to this group, which is known for its extremism and violent threats to political opponents, Armenians, Kurds, Jews, and LGBTQ+ community members.

Since November 2020 the Grey Wolves have been banned in Germany. However, the group remains active online, and is linked to threats against left-wing politicians, activists, journalists, intellectuals, etc. in both Turkey and Germany.

The German newspaper Taz joined forces with the Germany-based, Turkish-language news outlet Artı Gerçek to investigate the sources of online threats against people of Turkish and Kurdish background in Germany, including politicians and activists.

Journalists Volkan Ağar, Nora Belghaus, and NewsSpectrum fellow Ali Çelikkan traced a set of threats to the owner of a mobile phone shop in Turkey, a self-professed Grey Wolves follower.

Their interview with the shop owner is revealing and disturbing. As the journalists write:

“He says that the German government can’t protect his victims. The fact that he doesn’t even hide behind fake profiles anymore, but rather acts openly, shows further how safe he feels.”

The joint investigative team also looked into complexity of this movement and their past and current involvement in German politics. Their research also covers the impact the Grey Wolves have on the Turkish community in Germany, as well as on political and electoral dynamics in the country.

As Civan Akbulut, a Kurdish-born politician who received online death threats, says in the story:

“As long as people here in Germany are threatened because they are Kurdish, this is not a political problem from Turkey, but one in Germany.”

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