Read the Turkish original here. The text has been edited editorially for the German version.
Two artists from my circle of friends want to leave Berlin. An Austrian author who has been living in the capital for 20 years, appreciates "the easy life and the rich culture" here (me, too, by the way). Now she announced that she wanted to move to Vienna. The rents in their Berlin district are 2000 euros, in Vienna they only cost one third of this sum.
Anyone looking for a flat like I understand very well why is giving up the "poor but sexy" Berlin for the "rich and splendid" Vienna. Being able to pay for a small flat in a culturally rich neighborhood will become more difficult even for those who produce that wealth. Last week I had to submit a resume on a flat visit as job seeking to have a chance among 80 applicants.
With an annual influx of 40,000 people, housing construction is not declining, the rents have exploded. And as far as multiculturalism is concerned, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei announced his intention to leave Berlin. Of course, if an artist who continued to work in Berlin after his detention in China wants to go away, this, of course, is of importance to me, who is also continuing his work here after being imprisoned in Turkey. That's why I took a close look at his words. Ai Weiwei complains that German cultural hegemony leaves no room for dissenting voices. He mentions discrimination by taxi drivers, and accuses the Berlinale management of bowing to pressure from Chinese financiers and excluding dissident films. The management of the Berlinale as well as other immigrated to Germany artists contradict him, however.
It may seem like luxury when dissidents from China or Turkey complain about the limits of German culture of debate. But most have fought in their countries for overcoming discourse borders - and Berlin has welcomed the refugees with open arms. Therefore, the "Capital of the Exiled" should take the criticism seriously to keep this title. For me: Since I've been here, I have never felt strange despite the "cultural differences" in Berlin's intellectual world and the colorful Diaspora family. But it would be unrealistic to say that Berlin is not affected by the problems caused by the huge flow of refugees around the world. Discrimination by taxi drivers is a common example. Shortly after my arrival, for example, a postman refused my mail because I spoke English: "Here is Germany, here one speaks German." No matter how recognized you are, it is hurtful for someone to act so discriminating. The skin in exile is thin.
An author, who is quite popular in Turkey, returned to Berlin after some time. His reasoning: "The publishers, in which I submitted my manuscript, said: 'We had expected other things from you.' When I followed up, I realized that the expectations were limited to getting something about Turkey from me, and I was told that only German authors would have the privilege of dealing with universal issues. "
Although the openness of the population and the intellectual circles for divergent ideas is great, many foundations and companies are distanced from fear of reaction from Turkey's projects critical of the government. Whether Ai Weiwei in New York, which he now presumably prefers Berlin, finds a more tolerant climate? I doubt it. But as the world gets increasingly into the pang of intolerance, it would be good if Berlin reflected on the reasons of those who turn its back on it. The city must remain a haven for exiles. Poor but sexy.
From the Turkish by Sabine Adatape