Mesut Ozil can’t just get a break at the moment.
According to the Evening Standard, Ozil has drawn the ire of a representative of far-right German party Alternative for Germany (AfD) over his social media posting of a photo of himself in Mecca.
A club-record signing from Real Madrid, Ozil was slow to settle at the Emirates Stadium and has had his fair share of negative headlines for a lack of effort, physicality and influence in the big games. Now that the story has changed however, he has been branded ‘anti-patriotic’ by Andrea Kersten, the head of Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in Saxony.
Kersten labelled Ozil’s pilgrimage to the holy city “an anti-patriotic signal” in an interview with Die Welt.
“When Ozil regularly doesn’t sing along to the national anthem, we are supposed to treat it as his own private matter,” Kersten added.
“But when he goes on pilgrimage to Mecca, Der Tagesspiegel [a German daily newspaper] tells people it is ‘a sign for more understanding and integration’.
Kersten went on to claim that the two million likes Ozil had received for the post, which he published on his Facebook page a week ago, was a sign “the world has turned upside down”.
Ozil is a practising Muslim and has been pictured praying and reciting from the Quran prior to Arsenal matches.
This outrage comes days after the deputy leader of the AfD, Alexander Gauland, claimed in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that Germans ‘don’t want to have a Boateng as a neighbour’ – a reference to Jerome Boateng, another German international whose father is Ghanaian.
The AfD subsequently apologised for the comments, which were labelled “vile” by a spokesman of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In response to the statement supporters displayed a banner saying “Jerome be our neighbour” in Germany’s 3-1 friendly defeat to Slovakia on Sunday.
“It’s sad that something like that still gets said nowadays,” Jerome Boateng told reporters after the match. “I’m happy to be German.
“I am proud, otherwise I would not be here playing for the national team. I think I’ve integrated well and I don’t think I have to say much more than that.”
It’s sad to see people still get discriminated against based on their religion/heritage. More depressing is the fact that this is happening in one of the developed countries in the world. Wake up Germany!