Mesut Özil has been heavily criticised by a right-wing group in Germany, with the AfD labelling him “unpatriotic” after he posted a photo at the Islamic site of Mecca, as reported by the Daily Mail.
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The 27-year-old put up an image of himself at Mecca on Instagram, which immediately drew the ire of the AfD. They cited the fact that Özil never sings the German national anthem ahead of games either, with one of the party heads, Andrea Kersten, blasting the Arsenal star.
“When Özil regularly doesn’t sing along to the national anthem, we are supposed to treat it as his own private matter. But when he goes on pilgrimage to Mecca Tagesspiegel, a left-leaning daily newspaper, tells people it is ‘a sign for more understanding and integration’,” she said.
Özil always has been – and no doubt will be again – a major player for Germany at World Cups and Euro Championships. He gives his all for his country, yet is being criticised for his faith by the right-wing group.
“This is currying favour with a an ideology in which there is no equality between men and women, in which homosexuals are threatened with death and in which honour killings are seen as justified,” Kersten continued.
“In Islam patriotism is seen as superfluous while ostentatious avowal to Islam is seen as exemplary.”
If Özil doesn’t want to sing the national anthem then he doesn’t have to, and he shouldn’t be lambasted for his decision. You can love your country and love playing for your country without wanting to sing the national anthem, and few can question the amount Özil has given for his country.
This all comes shortly after the AfD caused real controversy with some comments about Jerome Boateng, who is a German national born to a Ghanaian father. Vice char Alexander Gauland hit out at the Bayern Munich star, saying: “People find him good as a football player but they don’t want a Boateng as their neighbour.”
Anti-Islamic, anti-immigration, and racist sentiments are at an incredible high in Germany at the moment, with many furious at Angela Merkel’s policies on immigration and the number of asylum seekers her government have allowed into the country.
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The AfD are riding this wave of discontent and looking to further their cause, with Özil caught in the crossfire. The World Cup winner was involved in a charity match in Jordan to aid Syrian refugees, while also visiting Dubai. He doesn’t deserve to be so harshly criticised, but this will not be a view shared by everyone.