Love Korean boys and Muslim girls

Muslim woman in Sarrazinland

For a month now, this country has not only had a new “hero” in the fight for freedom of expression (according to the latest campaign by the “Bild” newspaper), but also a new Islam expert. His name: Thilo Sarrazin. Some may be angry with him and his new book. Others may be appalled at the chutzpah with which he expresses venom. But the real scandal is not Sarrazin. In Germany the right to freedom of expression applies; our democracy must also endure the slogans of the NPD.

More worrying and dangerous for the social fabric are all those who make Sarrazin's chauvinistic statements acceptable and bring his crude wisdom to the people under the cover of the integration debate. The really shocking thing is the wide space that Sarrazin is offered. When has a big tabloid ever cleared a whole page of a book every day for a whole week in order to print central excerpts, completely free of accompanying criticism? Why so much honor for a man who denounces women as “imported brides” and coldly divides them into useful and useless according to their economic value?

Enemy Islam

There is a reason for the enormous response to the Sarrazin debate: We Muslims have been in a bad position in the German public for years.

Certainly part of the Muslim population in Germany has and is causing problems. Nobody would seriously deny this; it doesn't take Sarrazin to see that. It goes without saying that Turks and not Koreans have the greatest integration deficits. Part of that is simply because Turks make up the largest group of migrants. In this way they can easily come together in "parallel societies". How should the few Koreans in the country achieve this? But such clues are not currently catching on. In view of the new confusion, the world is literally thirsting for simple explanations and images.

An undifferentiated and defamatory “criticism of Islam” on the one hand and dogmatic views of overzealous Muslims on the other hand have been drawing the fundamentalist caricature of a dangerous and backward Islam for years. The liberal, cosmopolitan form of Muslim life, on the other hand, is far too seldom noticed. Of course, an open, differentiated and realistic view of Islam is far less spectacular than the scandal of Islamic terror kids (even with the name jihad) or “honor killers”. In the public debates on Islam, in which supposed experts talk heatedly, the liberal perspective is therefore regularly drowned out.

In fact, however, the dangerous distinction between Germans and Muslims, which is massively promoted in the Sarrazin debate, misses the reality of millions of people. In the 1960s, when the first Muslims immigrated, people were indeed either “German” or “Muslim”, but in the second, third and fourth generation of immigrants at the latest, we are “German” and "Muslim". We can be devout Muslims and at the same time loyal citizens of this country. It is possible to raise one's own voice against dogmatism and fundamentalism in Islam without giving up one's Islamic faith and mutating into a “secular cultural Muslim”.

After many years of experience as a “professional Muslim”, which I was able to gain in Islamic theology and as one of the first Islamic religious educators in the Federal Republic, I cannot give the all-clear. Too much is still going wrong with the integration of Muslims in Germany. For this, however, both Muslims and non-Muslims are to be criticized, politics as well as social developments. Only a well-founded and differentiated criticism can really bring us further - further than the blanket accusations that currently dominate the debate.

Islam - a religion with a migration background

Discrimination as a “foreigner” or “migrant” has always been the everyday experience of young Muslims who, like me, have found their home in this country. The Sarrazin overkill, however, has now caused countless people, not only in the media, to “finally speak plainly”. He leaves many people helpless: pubescent Muslim students are strengthened in their frustration. And Muslim academics are disgusted and speechless by the approval for the radical critics of Islam.

However, this experience must not lead to a bunker or even barricade mentality among Muslims. Rather, we have to make Islam so livable for us that it does not contradict modern values ​​such as tolerance, cosmopolitanism and freedom. Often the opposite is still the case, also for historical reasons. In Germany, Islam, like its followers, has a migration background. He traveled to Germany in the luggage of the "guest workers" and only then became a notable force in the country. But just like its followers, the faith gradually changes from generation to generation. The first episodes are slowly becoming visible. This can be seen particularly in school with young Muslims from the third generation of immigrants. They think that Islam plays the most important role in their life. A large part of the first generation of guest workers from Islamic countries thought completely differently. The first immigrants understood religion only as a piece of the mosaic of their identity. If you ask young people today why Islam is so important to them, surprisingly, you don't get to hear much, except for a few empty phrases. In more elaborate answers, the tenor is either that it is a natural, innate self-evident fact that Islam is the most important thing in life, or that God is the only one who can be relied on - because He is just.

Various factors are responsible for these astonishing and vague statements: the type and intensity of religious upbringing and religious practice in the home and community; the role of the culture of origin, tradition and language; the view of the “outside world” on Muslim youth; discrimination experienced several times, whether it affects you yourself or other Muslims; and especially protest against a supposedly hostile society (as there was also in the punk movement of the 80s). In short: many of the Muslim youth are not rooted enough in local society. But teenagers need a hold and an anchor to throw out and hold them tightly to something. They find this “lifeline” in Islam, because they don't feel recognized in Germany: Here they are still referred to as “Turks” or “foreigners”. The majority society still does not give them the feeling of being German.[1] All too often, "the" Germans themselves do not know exactly what being German means to them.

The silence of the majority society

Unfortunately, and long before Sarrazin, those responsible often lacked the necessary sensitivity where this feeling of exclusion could be countered. On the occasion of the celebrations marking 60 years of the Basic Law and thus also 60 years of the Federal Republic, Federal President Horst Köhler did not say a single word about the “guest workers” or the younger “generations of immigrants” in German society. Weren't your parents and their parents brought in to help boost German economic power? Wasn't it their fathers and grandfathers who came out of the coal mine with pneumonia because many native Germans were too good for it? And to this day, autochthonous Germans are too good to do a lot of work in this country, which is why Turks in particular operate the fruit and vegetable trade in Berlin, only to be insulted by Thilo Sarrazin afterwards.

Not a word, neither from Köhler nor from Sarrazin, that Muslims and other religious minorities have become an integral part of the country over the years and have made a decisive contribution to its current - positive - appearance. It is estimated that more than 15 million immigrants, including their descendants, live in Germany today, but Horst Köhler only spoke of the over ten million German refugees and displaced persons after the Second World War. He explained in detail: “East Prussia came to Schleswig-Holstein, Sudeten Germans to Bavaria and Bessarabian Germans to Swabia. That was often anything but easy. But in the end there was the experience: There was a new home, and the old one persisted in the heart. And everyone made the experience that there are many homes in Germany and that this diversity enriches our country. ”Not that the Muslims in particular have to be put in the foreground, but at least a mention of recent immigration history would have been appropriate on this occasion. It would hardly have been noticed, but it would have been there - as a simple sign of normality. The fact that this signal was not given is indicative of the high hurdles that this society still has to overcome in order to actually see itself as a country of immigration.

Experts and sleepers

The fact that (young) Muslims do not feel at home here and therefore delimit themselves makes us sit up and take notice - and these young people on our part very quickly exclude them. There is an immediate need to have excited debates about how to deal with "them". Therefore, the age limit for culpability is discussed immediately or the deportation regulation is reconsidered. In addition, the Sarrazin debate in particular gives the impression of constant immigration, which would gradually alienate the “autochthonous Germans” from their country. In 2009 we had the lowest number of naturalizations, so that the Chancellor already felt compelled to hand over some naturalization certificates personally to our “new Germans” in a media-effective manner. In the meantime, Germany also records more emigrants than immigrants every year - and that also applies to Turks: In 2009, 30,000 came. And it went: 40,000. This reluctance to become Germans also has something to do with the fact that immigrants are still too little respect is met. This fact is all the more surprising as there have apparently never been so many Islamic experts as there are today, far beyond Thilo Sarrazin. There is actually a self-proclaimed Islam expert in all of us, because we all have an opinion or attitude towards Islam, regardless of whether we know a Muslim or a Muslim. We all have an opinion about football or about the bonus payments made by bankers.

On the other hand, Muslims are rarely asked about their beliefs themselves. The “Forum am Freitag”, which was initiated by ZDF two years ago, is one of the few programs in which Muslims can speak on a weekly basis and express their views on a wide variety of topics. The "Islamic Word" of the Südwestrundfunk is a similar offer. At least there are now some publishers who present a different, more open view of Islam and thus contribute to Islam getting a new, more liberal face in public. But most of the media continue to deliver daily news telling us about “German-Turks”, “German-Lebanese”, “German-Bosniaks” or Muslims abroad. And this, as studies show, to more than 80 percent in connection with "young criminal foreigners", with "sleepers", "terrorism", "jihad", "Taliban", "Sharia", "anti-democracy", "Islamization", "Oppression", "intolerance", "forced marriages", "honor killings", "swimming lessons" or "headscarves".

The media give - sometimes unconsciously - the impression that the Muslim faith is actually forcing women and girls to be suppressed, to force the headscarf on them or to place Sharia law above the Basic Law. The one-sided media coverage even makes many Muslims believe that we are dealing with an ever-increasing group of uneducated foreigners who are incapable of democracy, who all hate the West and reject integration because Islam is a fascist, misogynistic and extremely chauvinist ideology . But how can this astonishing discrediting of Islam be explained?

The turning point Nine Eleven

September 11, 2001 played a decisive role. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have formally forced the negative reporting on us. A flood of books on Islam has since solidified the negative impression. There are many good non-fiction books on Islam, but on the other hand there are also numerous questionable writings by self-appointed “Islamic experts”. The latest example is the new book by the radical Islamic critic Udo Ulfkotte. It bears the cynical title: No Black. No red. No gold. Poverty for everyone in the "Funny Migrantenstadl". There could hardly be a better application for the leadership of a new right-wing party.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2008 I strolled through the exhibition halls and visited the stand of a large publishing house. I came across a number of books with titles such as “The Torn Veil”, “You Shall Die For Your Happiness”, “The Forbidden Woman” or “The Guilt of Being a Woman”. Another booth presented a similar picture: “The Forbidden Face: My Life under the Taliban”, “Dead Mouth. I was the wife of a warrior of God ”,“ My African heaven: A Muslim woman frees herself from the shackles of her family ”,“ To be free once! My 32 years in an Islamic village ”. It is frightening what reports of suffering and reports from oppressed women, women's rights activists, child rights activists, pseudoscientists, journalists, filmmakers and critics of Islam have been published in the last five years. However, not only because of the inhumanities that are described here, but also because of the distorted image that is drawn with it. Although women are also oppressed, abused and murdered outside the Islamic world in the name of religion and tradition, there are not nearly as many books about widow burnings in India, about genital mutilation among Orthodox Christians in Egypt, about the victims of machismo in South America or about evangelicals in the US who campaign against premarital intercourse.

No question about it, many people in the Islamic world have had bad experiences that should not be concealed. From their point of view, it may sound contemptuous when someone like me, who was allowed to spend a relatively unproblematic childhood and a previously normal life, complains about “reports of suffering” or “indictments”. And yet I can't get rid of the impression that, given the sheer volume of such publications, it's about more than the sad fate of individuals. Because at the same time decidedly malicious works such as “Die Wut und der Prolz” by the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who describes Muslim immigrants as “rats”, make it to the top of the German bestseller lists[2] and they even have a positive response from recognized federal politicians. Obviously, a not exactly small readership in Germany is waiting for bad news on the keyword “Islam”.

Internet power of opinion

The Internet also plays a not insignificant role in the opinion-making against Islam. What is spread in the countless blogs, forums and Internet sites on the subject of Islam and Muslims is often unbearable and highly questionable from a legal point of view. In many of the forums everyone is dismissed as a “do-gooder” who shows just a bit of understanding for Muslims. And "do-gooders" are known to be naive, middle-class Germans who do not see through the real machinations of the "sleeping Musels". It is not uncommon for me to be vilified as a “disguised Muslim fairy” who is actually subversive in overthrowing this society. Thank goodness there are numerous citizens in this country who are not influenced by such horror reports and shock reports. Fortunately, in this country you can be at the side of many sincere people who have retained their differentiated view of the world despite all adversities. But another part of this society, as the Sarrazin debate shows, has taken the other path. Even if this is (still) only a minority, it still represents a dangerous threat. The authors who practice “Islam-bashing” have been booming for years. They influence an ever larger part of the public.Although mostly non-Muslims, they think they “know” exactly how Muslims are at home, that Muslims tend to behave in gangs, are only social parasites anyway and that Muslim women have to wear their headscarves as a sign of oppression. Because in her ideal world of gender equality it cannot be that a woman chooses the headscarf of her own free will. In addition, these "Islamic experts" agree that the heart of a Muslim - no matter how "German" he understands himself - will in reality always beat for an ideology called Islam.

What is striking about all these “multipliers” - tabloid media, Islam experts, inflammatory Internet sites - is the lack of the common sense that they deny to those who do not view Islam and Muslims at least as “critically” as they do. Of course there are Muslims Women who are oppressed by their husbands. But Muslim women are not oppressed by their husbands because Islam orders him to suppress them, but because the man has a certain conception of life that he legitimizes and justifies with Islam. He misuses the Koran, which he probably never tried to understand himself, in his favor. Nor do I want to deny that there are so-called honor killings among Muslims, which is not only a family tragedy, but also a disgrace to society. But precisely these acts cannot be ascribed to Islam across the board. Honor killings have about as much in common with Islam as the killing of abortion doctors do with Christianity.

Islam is to blame for everything

Certainly: there are actually young Muslims who hate the West so much that they are ready for terrorist attacks, and there are certainly parents in Germany who do not allow their daughters to take part in swimming and physical education because of fundamentalist religious attitudes. Of course, these allegations, which "experts" make in articles, essays, books and blogs, are not out of thin air, and it is important to draw attention to these abuses. This is the only way to alleviate the suffering of those affected.

The big problem, however, are the inferences and generalizations made by these authors, who like to pretend to be particularly knowledgeable because they are cultural, ex- or secular Muslims themselves. Their monocausal approach of only holding religion accountable, as if it alone would determine the character of perpetrators and victims with an Islamic family background, cannot be sustained either theologically or sociologically. As a rule, other factors play a larger role: educational level, social status, standard of living, political attitudes or experiences of discrimination. Such aspects are mostly omitted in the relevant papers.

The self-appointed experts have one thing in common: Hardly any of them are devout, practicing Muslims, Islamic scholars, theologians or imams. Many of them derive their Islamic competence solely from the fact that they have an Islamic family background or have lived in a Muslim society for a long time. When I look at the images that such “experts” construct, I don't see any connection between them and me. Many other Muslim Germans will feel the same way. Nevertheless, we are repeatedly asked to demonstrate our capacity for democracy and the will to integrate. Okay, but in return we demand greater commitment from the majority society to finally straighten out the crooked image of us. Non-Muslims, too, must actively campaign for the integration of Muslims in the interests of the community, so that at some point we too can be regarded as “completely normal Germans”. As the saying goes: “Integration is not a one-way street” - it is a common task for all parts of society.

The interaction of the fundamentalists

But to be honest, it is not easy for many Muslim Germans to identify with this country. In the meantime, and not least in view of the Sarrazin offensive, anger and disappointment have built up in me too. The impression arises that many fellow citizens do not really like the plurality of our society and the achievements of our Basic Law and that they secretly dream of the homogeneous German society of the post-war period.

But the state must be there for all of its citizens. I've had enough of the one-sided reports on Muslims and the hate speech against Islam. The authors are basically just as fundamentalist and stubborn as the hysterical Muslims who want to keep telling their “brothers” and “sisters” what the “true religion” is.

The current Islamic debate is dominated by two actors: the Islamic experts or critics of Islam on the one hand and conservative Muslim functionaries on the other. Both sides convey the image of a frozen, fundamentalist Islam.[3] Progressive Muslims are branded by the Muslim functionaries as hypocrites who do not deal honestly with Islamic tradition, and by the critics of Islam as helpless shouters in the desert. However, this notion is by no means representative of the silent majority of Muslims. For critics of Islam, there can be no cosmopolitan, enlightened Muslims: The dogma that Islam cannot be integrated in principle must not be shaken. According to their logic, an educated person can only turn away from Islam. So that means: I do not exist for them. For the conservative Muslims, who often behave like hobby Muslims, I am no longer a true Muslim - even if it is against good manners among Muslims to say something like that openly.

The extreme perspectives of critics of Islam and Muslim association officials are a good control for me: Because I would have to ask myself whether I am doing something wrong if one side or the other would praise me too much. Then I would be either too critical of Islam or too conservative myself.

Homeland Germany

However, there is also a third group of people who openly identify themselves as racists. I keep getting emails asking me to leave Germany: This country doesn't need me. I should better go back to my homeland and do mischief there. Well, let's go home. Almost 120 kilometers, then I'm there, in tranquil Ahlen in Westphalia - my hometown.

I do not receive all attacks in writing. After an event in Frankfurt am Main, an elderly lady intercepted me and verbally abused me. What I'm doing there is unheard of, she said to my face: "Now we blonde Germans have to allow ourselves to be discriminated against by people like you." There is constant speculation in e-mails and in relevant online forums about when an angry Muslim or non-Muslim will finally shoot me. In almost every lecture or discussion event, I experience how either the audience or my fellow discussants speak of how Muslims have to make an effort in order to adapt to the free democratic basic order. After all, Islam would make it very difficult for them to live freely here. In addition, the Muslims here in Germany would have to campaign for freedom of religion for Christians and the building of churches to be granted in their home countries. Otherwise that would be strangely one-sided, because after all, a mosque sprouts out of every hole in this country. In addition, Muslims like me should make an effort to finally convince others of us Muslims to abolish Sharia law or at least keep it away from Germany and Europe. The role of Muslim women is also not satisfactory, since most Muslim women, who of course all wear a headscarf, are nevertheless oppressed. In addition, the Koran conveys a terrifyingly negative image of God, whereas the image of God in Christianity is consistently positive.

When I have dealt with every single point, every assertion and defamation for a long time - and that is also quite critical of Islam - the murderous argument always follows: “You, Ms. Kaddor, are also completely different. If all Muslims were like you, we would have no more problems! " But there are very many Muslims like me. I am a German born in Germany of Muslim faith with a Syrian migration background. My home is Germany without any ifs or buts. I have no other home. I went to kindergarten, school and university in Germany. My German-Syrian parents live here, my older sister with her husband of Turkish origin and a daughter, my older brother with his wife of Russian origin and her son, my younger sister with her microbiological doctoral project, my second self in the form of a Muslim husband of German origin, my Germans Christian in-laws, my wonderful friends, work colleagues, students! Here I choose, am interested in politics and pay my taxes. Here I defend our democratic order and stand for freedom of expression and religion as well as for equality. So I don't only live in Germany. I participate in social and political processes and feel right at home here. I am a devout Muslim and that doesn't prevent me from being a good democrat. We Muslim Germans and at the same time we German Muslims want to be understood as exactly that. There has to be an end to seeing ourselves as strangers. It is not others who tell me whether and how I am German, but I want to determine for myself what my being German means. Others don't tell me what Islam is or should be, but I want to determine how I live my Islam myself.

Never again "the Muslims"

Respectful interaction with one another can only work through empathy. But the so-called critics of Islam and their supporters are obviously not concerned about what responsibility they bear and what their actions can do to the many Muslim fellow citizens who inconspicuously go about their everyday life with work, family and leisure without making a fuss about their religion, but still seek support in faith in private life. To speak to Chancellor Merkel: You feel “extremely hurt”.

Already so far there has hardly been a lecture, hardly a reading or any other public event of mine that was not attended by at least one “concerned” citizen. And again and again, listeners have the correct Koran translation with them and know exactly how certain verses are understood by Muslims today. And again and again I am “haunted” by exactly these people before, during or after an event, who ask me critically: “What do you need mosques for? It's a Christian country. ”-“ Why do we always have to be so tolerant of Muslims? ”-“ Why are people's heads cut off in Algeria? ”A“ critical ”listener recently said to me:“ Ms. Kaddor, admit it. The Muslims lie and deceive - that's what the Koran says. "And again and again it is said: Muslims cannot live in a democracy, Muslims want Sharia law, Muslims only marry one another, Muslims know no equality ... And after the Sarrazin debate, many more people will certainly be convinced of all of this.

But there is no such thing as “the Muslims”! And there is no Muslim world conspiracy against the West. It must finally be an end to viewing Muslims as one people and leaning against everyone. Only when we finally understand this will we really get a step further in the necessary integration debate

[1] In their “home”, which they only know if at all from their vacation, the young people are often no different; there they are mostly just "the Germans".

[2] Incidentally, that Oriana Fallaci was made by Pope Benedict XVI. honored with a private audience shortly after he took office.

[3] Cf. Patrick Bahners, Fanaticism of the Enlightenment. On the criticism of criticism of Islam, in: "Blätter", 9/2010,
Pp. 105-117.