Desis in Europa
„From Turkey the brothers Abdul Jabbar Khairi and Abdus Sattar Kahiri joined the commitee”, Günther and Rehmer (1999, 55) remark when describing the situation of the 'Indians' in Berlin before the first world war.
There had been a long history of links between 'South Asia' and the 'Ottoman Empire', which protected the sacred cities of Islam Mecca and Medina. 'South Asians' also came as soldiers or adventurers to what is today called Turkey. The Khilafat Movement became part of the nationalist movement and many 'South Asian' Muslims attempt to migrate to Turkey in the course of it. Also other freedom fighters, who were not linked to the Khilfafat Movement, went to Turkey. Some then going further to other 'European' countries. In the post 1930s the 'South Asians' in Turkey became less visible. Until since the 1990s businessmen, refugees and illegalised migrants have come. (Kotin 2006)
Coming by land from 'South Asia' to 'Europe' it is the natural way to cross Turkey. This seems to have brought migrants from the subcontinent already early there and still gives occasion to considerable transit travel. The newspapers repeatedly report on 'South Asians' being arrested while trying to pass the 'Turkish borders'. Van Buren (1999) argues that the ‘balkan route’ through Turkey is the preferred way for 'Tamils' and 'Pakistani' on their way to Europe. Baweja (1997) describes how illegalised migrants boarded in Turkey a ship which brought them death.
For statistical material click here (pdf-file).