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Dec 06 2018

Turkish immigrants receive Germany’s top honour

Two Turkish immigrants received Germany’s highest civilian honour on Tuesday for their efforts to use German history to inform and assist other immigrants, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded Burak Yılmaz, 31, and Gülaynur Kanaat Uzun, 52, the German Order of Merit on Tuesday for their voluntary work and services to Germany’s culture of remembrance.

Yılmaz works to combat racism and anti-Semitism by raising awareness among Germany’s immigrants about the crimes of the Nazi regime. Uzun aims to empower and help integrate immigrant women, and leads tours on immigrant history in her Berlin neighbourhood of Neukölln.

The mother of two has lived in Neukölln since moving to Germany from Istanbul at six years old, and leads tours for the Route 44 cultural project, recounting the story of Bohemian immigrants and later guest workers in the neighbourhood.

At the award ceremony, Steinmeier underlined the importance of taking lessons from German history, and praised social initiatives against racism and anti-Semitism.

“We must show great determination in fighting against anti-Semitism, which remains virulent to this day,” he said. “People will only have understood this lesson when discrimination against all minorities is banned, regardless of their religion, culture, background, social situation, sexual orientation or identity.”