Today, Turkish diaspora communities encompassing roughly 5.5 million people are spread across Europe, forming one of the continent’s largest migrant groups and the largest Muslim-majority community. But 60 years and at least four generations later, many people from the Turkish diaspora still feel like second-class citizens in Europe.
Just as in the rest of Iraq and the wider region, the Kurdish model has failed to resolve deep social, political and economic issues by mere nationalistic thinking and slogans. The ongoing mass Kurdish exodus to Europe through Belarus is a clear example of this failure.
Before 2011, Reyhanli had about 90,000 inhabitants. Ten years later, the figure is almost 250,000. The new residents from the south are so numerous that a new neighborhood was built in the city. It’s called Yeni Sehir, which translates to the New City, and it is larger than the old one.
Afghan translators face deadly violence from the Taliban after the US withdraws in a matter of months. Yet the program designed to help them relocate to the US is a shambles, and many are dying while waiting for an answer.
The hours felt endless. Hours “where you wonder why they took your documents, kept your mobile phone, and then you realize, only a few weeks later, that it is their way of controlling you. They got you, they can blackmail you, you are their merchandise.”
Five years, three countries, and a pile of immigration paperwork later, I can honestly say that borders have shaped, challenged, and strengthened our love for one another. Still, I know that borders could have just as easily broken us.
A death notice appeared in a Lebanese village north of Beirut last September of a man with a curious first name. It took me back to my school days in Syria and the unusual interest many of my fellow schoolboys had in the history of the Second World War.