政治文化

Parallel Worlds? Muslims in Germanyen

Decades after hundreds of thousands of desperately needed foreign workers were invited to come and fill the vacancies, mostly at the bottom end, of the German employment market, it has at last become clear that the former so-called ‘guest workers’ – and especially their children – will not be returning permanently to their homelands. And only now is a real awareness developing of the cultural differences between the Germans and, for example, the mainly Muslim Turks who make up one of the largest ethnic groups in the country – differences that have actually been obvious all along. Many attempts at integration seem to have failed.

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Authors: Kirsten Kummer, Dirk Kämper
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In the film we meet those at the interface of this socio-cultural divide and find out how far the ideals and lifestyles, especially those of the children of the first emigrant generation, diverge from those of mainstream German society.

In 1961, the „Agreement Regarding the Recruitment of Turkish Workers for the German Labour Market” was concluded between Turkey and Germany. In 1973 the German Federal Government ordered a recruitment stop; at the time over 900,000 Turkish people were resident in Germany, today it is 2.5 million. Assessments of the manner in which Germans and immigrants have come to co-exist in the meantime differ. In recent times the buzzword “parallel societies” has gained currency In the arena of political debate, often in relation to the implicitly or explicitly expressed worries about the radicalising of the Muslim immigrants. In fact, the Turkish minority population, and other immigrant groups as well, are forming increasingly expansive ‘ethnic ghettos’ within the mainstream culture.

The „typical” migrant worker of the first generation, who now make up about a quarter of the ethnic Turkish population in Germany, comes from a rural, structurally weak region of Turkey and is firmly entrenched in old customs and traditional values. He/she has little schooling and poor vocational skills, thus low professional status and as a rule, a poor German language skills – all in all, his/her opportunities within mainstream German society are extremely limited.

A higher level of schooling and vocational training on the other hand, characterizes the second generation – the children of Turkish immigrants, resulting better German language skills and a higher professional standing. In other words, the opportunity for the younger generation to participate in mainstream German society is greater, although their socio-cultural identity still differs markedly from it. A “typical” member of the second generation identifies equally with Germany and Turkey and seldom has any intention of “re-emigrating” to their “ethnic homeland”. The connectedness to the local German community, evident in personal and professional contacts, a positive image of Germany and in inter-ethnic leisure activities, is stronger than it was for the first generation Turkish-Germans. The second generation has slowly adapted to the overall value system predominant in German society, although the culture of their ethnic heritage still plays an important role.

In general, the second generation Turks in Germany have, in contrast to the first, partially adapted to German society. It is, however, glaringly obvious within the same second generation the levels of integration vary drastically. On the one hand there are those belonging to the “typical” second-generation group who generally conform to the developments and norms previously described. On the other hand there are those in the same generational group who still lack opportunities to participate in mainstream German society, remain marginalized and tend, as result, to retreat even further from integration. This social segment, albeit a small one, tends to rely more heavily on traditional ethnic structures for a strengthened sense of identity and improved social status, which can, however, also help to support continued social isolation.

There are currently approximately 3.2 million Muslims living in Germany. Among them, people of Turkish origin make up by far the largest ethnic group. Every day prayers are done and religious sermons are delivered in around 3,000 mosques throughout the country. In over 100 of them these religious services are of extremist character, according to the German Federal Agency for Internal Security. Only around 10% of the Muslims in Germany belong to official associations. According to the Islam Archive in Soest – the Federal Government’s source of statistical information relating to Islamic life in Germany – the largest Muslim organisation is the Islamic Council, with a membership of 136,000. This group is, however, dominated by the Turkish Islamic association Mili Görüs, which the Internal Protection Agency has had under surveillance for some time. The second-largest Islamic organisation, with 120,000 members, is known as the “Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion e.V.“ (or: Ditib: Diyant Isleri Türk-Islam). It has close connections to Turkey’s Headquarters for Religious Affairs. The Central Committee of Muslims, with around 12,000 members, is the smallest association, representing mainly non-Turkish Muslims and dominated by Saudi Arabian influence. Politicians across all parties in Germany have long expressed the wish that Muslims here organise themselves in a transparent structure and unify around a common representative. Church-like structures, however, are foreign to Islam and the various nationalities and political persuasions of practitioners of Islam in Germany further complicate the process of organisational unification.

Related literature:

Fatma B.: „Hennamond – Mein Leben zwischen den Welten“
(Henna Moon – My Life Between Two Worlds)
Ullstein Tb 2001, ISBN: 3548362443
www.hennamond.de

Serap Cileli: „SERAP - Wir sind Eure Töchter, nicht Eure Ehre“
(“SERAP – We’re Your Daughters, Not Your Honour”)
Neuthor-Verlag 2002, ISBN 3-88758-081-8
www.serap-cileli.de

Necla Kelek: „Die fremde Braut“
(The Foreign Bride”)
Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2005, ISBN: 3462034693
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2005
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