A fan wearing a Turkey shirt with his face painted in German colours poses amidst German and Turkish flags in Duisburg on Tuesday. Germany will play against Turkey in the Euro 2008 championship semifinal in Basel tonight.Photo: AFP
Football-crazy Germany is lapping up this month's European Championships but with a three-million Turkish minority, the country, it seems, has two national teams -- who face off on Wednesday.
And suspense is building. Germany and Turkey have never played each other in the quarterfinals of a major international football championships, let alone clashed for a place in the final of one as they will this week.
From Moenchengladbach to Munich and Braunschweig to Bonn, cars, buildings and people are festooned not only with the German black, gold and red but also with the Turkish crescent and star.
Each victory -- most recently Germany's emphatic win over pre-tournament favourites Portugal and Turkey's nail-biting penalty shootout triumph over Croatia -- has been followed by triumphant parties, with cars horns beeping and fireworks exploding late into the night.
As the teams and fans psych themselves up for Wednesday's game in Switzerland, back home it's not just about sport.
Germany's Turks have proudly failed the so-called "Tebbit test" -- named after former British minister Norman Tebbitt who suggested in the 1980s that immigrants to England should support the English team and not their country of origin.
But many won't even support Germany no matter who it plays against, saying they feel unwelcome in their host country.
"Listen, there is no work for foreigners in Germany. Foreigners don't have a lot of good things to say about Germans," says one kebab shop owner in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, the city's "Little Istanbul", who declined to give his name.
"If there's a job advert in the paper and I ring up and say 'my name is Ali,' they tell you the job's gone. But when someone rings up and says 'my name is Hans,' they say come and see me," said the 40 year-old, who has lived in Germany since he was a child.
"If you experience that then you're not going to support Germany ... I've got German flags on the front of the shop but that's just for business reasons, so that Germans come."
The figures bear out his frustrations.
-- More than half the Turks in Germany feel unwelcome --
A survey published by weekly Die Zeit in March showed than more than half of residents of Turkish origin feel unwelcome in Germany.
According to government figures, nearly one in five young people without German nationality -- which many second and third generation Turks do not have -- leave school without any qualifications.
Less than one in 10 completes the Abitur -- the secondary school-leaving certificate similar to A-levels in Britain or the baccalaureate in France -- and the risk of unemployment is twice as high.
And official data show that while 24 per cent of residents people in Germany are at risk of falling below the poverty line, the figure for those of Turkish origin is a staggering 42.5 per cent, according to the Essen-based Centre for Studies on Turkey,
"Educational success in Germany depends on ethnic and social background," junior immigration minister Maria Boehmer conceded this month.
Friedrich Heckmann, sociology professor for the European Forum for Migration Studies at Bamberg University, links Turkish reluctance to support the national team to Germany's former, long time "Gastarbeiter" policy -- when migrants were allowed in to fill labour shortages but "would soon go home".
"The large majority of migrants are not ready to identify with their national context, although they are at the local level," Heckmann told AFP. "Studies show that only around 10 per cent, even among second generation migrants, would identify with Germany."
The government is making a big show of tackling the issue, aiming to quell both social problems fuelled by the lack of equal opportunities in education and the labour market and to head off any extremist drift by disaffected young Muslims, the principle religion among Turks.
Conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel has personally taken charge of a nationwide integration plan. It involves language and integration classes as well as measures to improve the situation in schools and the workplace and to promote political involvement.
The alienation -- even among some third and fourth generation Turks -- is not helped by the fact that very few of their kinsmen have played for Germany. The current team has several Polish-born players but none of Turkish origin.
Here, too, Germany is taking steps, with the national football federation becoming more proactive in urging young players from immigrant families to take German citizenship.
But some critics say the motivation here may be more to poach sporting talent rather than promote integration. The last time Germany played Turkey, they lost.