Mesut Özil’s two hearts and the dual identities of white Europeans

Readers respond to Afua Hirsch’s piece about the German footballer, which asked why people of colour should have to ditch their national heritage

I agree with Afua Hirsch that German-born Mesut Özil should feel free to celebrate his German and his Turkish identity (Identity is one thing you can’t steal from us, 25 July). The problem is that Özil naively (one hopes) posed for a photograph with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an increasingly authoritarian leader who has imprisoned thousands of his own people as well as German journalists and used this photo to help get himself re-elected.

None of this justifies Özil being made the scapegoat for Germany’s early exit from the World Cup, but we should not be surprised at German reaction to this provocative and unpatriotic act any more than we would be surprised at reaction in Britain to one of its dual-identity citizens posing for a photo with an Isis leader. And the last thing dual-identity citizens should do is identify with a country of their heritage that they have never lived in rather than Britain, as Hirsch irresponsibly suggests. The former is a fantasy where they have no influence, the latter is their country of citizenship where they can and should contribute to the betterment of that society.
Stan Labovitch
Windsor, Berkshire

• I was interested in Afua Hirsch’s quote from Mesut Özil: “I have two hearts.” Don’t thousands or more residents of countries throughout the world whose families originated in Europe not have the same feeling by belonging to “cultural organisations” or simply acknowledging their heritage that links them back to their families’ origins? I can think of worldwide Caledonian societies and Burns clubs, Irish societies, Italian cultural societies etc (I’m sure there are German equivalents throughout the world). Is it OK for white Europeans to keep a link to their heritage but not for others from other cultures?
Hugh Clark

• Welcome to the identity club, Afua. This is a problem the Welsh – the original British – have had since the English arrived in the fifth century. They have stolen or suppressed our identity ever since, a bit annoying since we’ve been here for millennia and have spoken a form of Welsh since the bronze age. The English seem to think being English is the same as being British. This happens all the time in sport: if a Welsh team does well, or wins, they are British; if they lose, they are Welsh. A prime example is the way Geraint Thomas is being treated in the Tour de France. Many of us have decided our identity is Welsh, rejecting the term British, since it no longer applies to us.
John Owen

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