“Grey Wolves” tattoo: Mesut Özil shows himself with a symbol of a right-wing radical group on his chest
Ex-national player Mesut Özil can be seen on social media with a tattoo on his chest showing the symbol of the right-wing group “Grey Wolves”.
A picture of Mesut Özil on social media has triggered a wave of outrage. The former German national soccer player presents his abdominal muscles on the Instagram account of his fitness trainer Alper Aksac with them. An apparent tattoo on Özil’s chest is also visible in the picture. A howling wolf is emblazoned there, next to it are three crescents. The symbol is one of the identifying marks of the Turkish, right-wing extremist “Ülkücü” movement.
According to the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, their ideology is characterized by exaggerated nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. The supporters, known as the “Grey Wolves”, dream of a Turkish empire called “Turan” and see Turkishness as superior. They also devalued other groups, especially Armenians, Kurds, Greeks and Jews. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the movement has around 11,000 followers in Germany.
Violent criticism of Mesut Özil’s tattoo
The fact that Özil apparently tattooed such a symbol on his chest caused a wave of outrage on social media. Journalist Tobias Huch wrote: “Erdogan friend and ex-national player Mesut Özil proudly shows his Nazi tattoo of the fascist Gray Wolves (flag with three crescents and a wolf). It is one of the worst symbols of hate and stands for hatred and crimes against Alevis, Kurds, Jews and Christians.”
“Ozil should be denied all prizes and awards from the DFB or the Federal Republic,” commented the chairman of the Junge Union, Johanns Winkel on Twitter. Former Berlin MP Hakan Tas wrote about Özil’s pictures: “It was actually known in general! But now it’s official with the tattoo. Özil supports the Gray Wolves.”
Here you can see the original pictures on the Instagram account of fitness trainer Alper Aksac. Zooming into the picture you can clearly see the howling wolf and the three crescents:
The wolf and crescents as a nationalist symbol
According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the wolf as a symbol goes back to several Turkish legends and myths in which the animal plays a major role and is therefore popular with right-wing extremists in Turkey. The three crescents served in the Ottoman Empire, among other things, as a war flag and can be found today in the logo of the extremely nationalist Turkish “Party of the Nationalist Movement” (MHP). The moons stand for the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, some of which used to belong to the Ottoman Empire. In social media, supporters of the “Ülkücü” movement often use the abbreviation “CcC”, which is supposed to stand for the three crescents.
Mesut Özil has been criticized several times in Germany for supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. So he had himself photographed with Erdogan shortly before the 2018 World Cup, the photos were published by his party at the time. A public debate follows about him (and team colleague Ilkay Gündogan, who also had his picture taken with Erdogan), which overshadows the preparation for the World Cup. After the disappointing preliminary round, Özil announced his retirement from the national team and publicly accused the DFB and the German media of “racism and disrespect”. About a year later, the Turkish President is also invited to Özil’s wedding, and there are always photos of the two.
Erdogan himself repeatedly sought closeness to the Gray Wolves and other Turkish nationalists. His government is currently supported in parliament by the nationalist MHP.
Sources: Instagram Alperaksac7, Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution