TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr.
Februar 2010

Sektion 8.7. Das Kreuz mit dem Halbmond: Ethnische und religiöse Transformationen in europäischen Kontexten | The Crux of Islam in Europe: Ethnic and Religious Transformations in European Contexts
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair: Gregor Thuswaldner (Gordon College, Massachusetts)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

“Clearly, the German Government Never Intended for These Guests to Stay”

Cultural Manifestations of the Intensifying Turkish-German Conflict in Today’s Germany

Talia Kazan (zur Zeit der Konferenz Gordon College, Wenham, MA, USA jetzt an der University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA)



The Gastarbeiter, or “guest worker,” program between Turkey and Germany officially began in July 1961. Even after receiving the Marshall Plan from the United States, Germany was still faced with a sluggish economy and needed a way out. Guest workers were called from various countries, such as Italy and Turkey. The government planned for these workers to stay only until the economy, and Germany for that matter; had recovered from World War II. As the economy turned around, it was expected that the Turks would return to Turkey. That did not happen. Germany became their home. Workers sent for their families, purchased homes, and set down roots. The guest workers became residents, and the downhill slide between the Germans and Turks began. Since the 1980’s both have struggled in their relationship, with very few improvements made over the last twenty years. In order for the relationship to experience positive change, improvements from both Germans and Turks need to be made, and soon.

Germany post World War II was struggling. The economy was sluggish, even after receiving billions of dollars from the Marshall Plan in the United States starting in 1947. It needed a way to regain strength and power, not just in Germany but also in the international sphere. The Gastarbeiter program was therefore introduced. Its goal: to bring in foreign workers who could take menial jobs that Germans were not taking, help the economy, and then return home. “To help rebuild its own, shattered post-war economy, Germany invited many Muslim guest workers from Turkey, expecting that these guests would one day return home.”(1)

 Germany did indeed invite workers from Turkey, as Shore correctly asserts. But just how Muslim were they? Turkey is considered one of the most secular Muslim nations, one where religious devotion is completely different and low in comparison to countries such as Iran or Iraq. It is extremely difficult to attain actual figures of devout Muslims in Turkey, but the country has undergone massive secularization since the end of the Ottoman Empire. Shore effectively outlines the economic position of Germany and the reason behind inviting guest workers to the country. Yet, to state that all the workers were Muslim is incorrect. Overall, a very low number of Turks in Germany are actually devout practicing Muslims, estimates claim around ten percent of Turks.(2) 

 The lack of preparation for the Turks coming to Germany indicates that it was not intended for guest workers to stay longer than necessary. One major indicator is the lack of language courses offered by German firms or the government. Yet, although language courses were not readily available, housing statistics seem to indicate that Turks did not have a strong desire to learn German. During the first ten years of the Gastarbeiter program, around 25 percent of all Turks did not have day-to-day contact with native Germans, indicating that they segregated themselves within their neighborhoods. Turkish, not German; was spoken. “In many areas, Turks encounter relatively few of the majority culture in their daily lives, limiting the need for the use of the majority language as the lingua franca.”(3)

Although language barriers created problems at the workplace, Turks survived just fine. They acquired the language as time went on. If anything, language courses offered at free or little cost to arriving guest workers would have allowed for a quicker transition into Germany.

One German born Turk, Cem, explains in Breeding Bin Ladens what his parents from Istanbul faced when they arrived in Hamburg. Each morning they would go to the bakery to buy bread and would hear the word morgen upon entering the store. From their limited German, they knew that morgen meant “tomorrow.” What they didn’t know is that it also meant “good morning,” a simplified and casual way to greet one another. Hence, they thought that the baker was telling them to come back “tomorrow” to buy their bread. Each morning they would leave the bakery empty-handed until they learned how much a loaf of bread cost. They would then run in each morning, grab the loaf, put the money on the counter, and leave before the baker could say anything. No one ever explained to Cem’s parents that morgen could be used as a greeting. And how does Cem view this situation? He sees it a clear sign of Germany’s plan for its Turkish guest workers. Cem believes the government intended for guest workers to get their job done and not to feel comfortable enough in Germany to make it their home. “Cem draws on a host of anecdotes to illustrate how little thought and planning was given on how to integrate Germany’s guest workers. Clearly, the German government never intended for these guests to stay.”(4)

Realistically, does this one experience highlighted by Shore clearly demonstrate Germany’s intentions for its guest workers? Realistically, focusing on this one experience of two guest workers in the city of Hamburg does not concretely confirm Germany’s intentions for its guest workers. How else should the baker have greeted customers entering his store? How could he have known that Cem’s parents did not speak German unless they indicated otherwise? Should he then have proceeded to learn enough Turkish to converse with them? Taking it yet a step further, should he also have learned Italian to communicate with the Italian guest workers? Yes, steps should have been taken by the government to ease the language barriers, but the blame for the guest worker’s experience in Germany should not be placed on this unnamed baker in Hamburg, who did not appear to know that Cem’s parents could not speak German.

All in all, one can see that steps were not put in to place to make guest workers feel at home in Germany. Why? Simply because it was not supposed to be their home. Germany was not where they were supposed to feel welcome, or a place where they should consider settling. Germany was meant to be a stopover for guest workers, not a final destination. Turks were faced with the slogan Deutschland ist kein Einwanderungsland, or “Germany is not a land of immigration.” CDU politicians, [Christian Democratic Union], touted this throughout 1960s till the early 1980s, in order to calm nervous Germans who saw their country being flooded with immigrants, and perhaps to constantly remind guest workers that they were not to stay in Germany longer than necessary.

By the early 1970’s Germany had one of the world’s most enviable economies. It was one that had completely overcome the struggles post WWII, and one that was beginning to boom. The Gastarbeiter program had succeeded. “In summary, the Gastarbeiter whether from southern Europe or Turkey, seem to have performed a valuable function in contributing to the growth of the German economy in the postwar period.”(5)

In response to the 1973 international oil crisis, the German government officially closed the Gastarbeiter program. According to the government, it was time for guest workers to return home. Only, that is not what they wanted.  Despite cultural differences and language barriers, guest workers wanted to extend their stay. “…But finding conditions more agreeable in their new surroundings, many remained, sent for their wives, and began families. As Max Frisch put it: ‘Wir riefen Arbeiter, aber Menschen kamen,’(6) (“We called for workers but people came.”)

A rather dehumanizing way of looking at the situation, but Frisch effectively summarizes the situation that Germany was faced with by the early 1980s. Most Germans did not welcome the thought of guest workers of any race staying in Germany longer than necessary. It must have been especially difficult for Germans to face the reality of Turkish workers staying though, due to their culture and traditions being so different than what was present in Germany. At least guest workers from Italy or France came from different albeit western-European cultures. Turks came from an eastern culture. And although Turkey is an extremely secular Muslim country, where headscarves and public declarations of faith in public are forbidden, religious differences still became the issue when dealing with Turks. “Faced with growing Muslim populations, we find many Europeans becoming conscious of their roots in Christendom.”(7)

Therefore, Germany could not be home to a Muslim population. The level of religious devotion was regardless, steps needed to be taken in order to discourage Turkish workers from staying. To ensure that these guest workers would indeed return to Turkey, financial incentives were offered.  Return tickets and bonuses were offered to those willing to return home. By 1983, about 250,000 Turks had returned to Turkey. Much to the disdain of the German government, the majority of the Turks stayed in Germany, making it their new home. Anti-Immigration sentiments in Germany grew during the 1980s as the government continued to allow political refugees asylum and the Turks to stay in Germany. In part, Mark Kesselman theorizes that Germany was trying to make good on the atrocities and utter anti-foreigner stance taken by Hitler during WWII. “Post-WWII Germany’s sensitivity to the excesses of the Nazi regime was responsible for the liberal asylum laws because postwar German governments viewed with pride the country’s openness to oppressed people…”(8)

Although it refers more directly to political refugees seeking a safe haven in Germany, it still represents the stance Germany took on immigrants’ post-WWII despite the belief of being Kein Einwanderungsland. The German government sought to distance itself completely from Hitler’s Third Reich, and one way to do so was allowing for a generous immigrant and asylum policy. A welcoming and opening stance towards foreigners was taken. However, an important clarification is needed. Yes, Germany became more open to foreigners and refugees seeking political asylum. However, according to Kesselman this policy was not so open when it came to foreigners becoming German citizens. “This influx placed great strains on a country that paradoxically has had generous political asylum laws but significant restrictions on non-Germans attaining citizenship.”(9)

This open immigrant-asylum sentiment unfortunately faded as the country was inundated with guest workers that were becoming residents, and refugees seeking political asylum in Germany. The rate of immigrants and refugees seeking asylum in Germany was just too high. Complaints were soon made that Turks were stealing jobs away from Germans. Anti-Turkish sentiments began to rise in Germany throughout the mid 1980s.  By the early 1990s Germany was bogged down under the huge financial burden of reunification, a process that was happening at an unexpected and fast pace. It was costing the western-German government millions of dollars to absorb and rebuild the former eastern-German states, millions more than the government had promised. Unemployment levels soared in the former eastern-German states due to the fall of Communism, and neo-Nazis in particular started to look for a scapegoat. The pangs of reunification afforded radicals, neo-Nazis in particular; throughout Germany the perfect opportunity to take action against Turks and other foreigners.  Rather than blame a slow economy and the astronomical cost of getting the former Communist Bundesländer up to western standards, radicals began to blame the Turks for their economic and employment woes. Granted, Eastern and Western Germans also placed blame on their respective Bundesländer and governments as the years went on, yet it was easy in the early years for neo-Nazis and other radicals to place the blame directly on the Turks.

The 1990s saw a huge rise in violence perpetrated against Turks in Germany. Up until this point the anti-Turkish sentiments had been restricted to newspaper articles or suspected neo-Nazi graffiti scrawling on the sides of buildings, such as “Jews Yesterday, Turks Tomorrow.”

The reunification of Germany helped anti-Turkish sentiments reach a breaking point. In November 1992 three Turkish men died in Mölln after their house was firebombed while In May 1993 alone, 400 reported acts of violence against Turks were reported.  Finally, also in May 1993, two Turkish women and three children were killed in Sollingen after their house was firebombed. This incident was especially controversial because Helmut Kohl, the chancellor at the time, refused to attend the funeral of the victims. Neo-Nazis were the suspected perpetrators of both fire bombings, showing that racism and hatred towards immigrants, Turks in particular, has grown beyond messages of hatred scrawled on buildings. Violence against Turks has not slowed down since the firebombings of the mid 1990s. In 2001 alone, 14,724 acts of violence against Turks were reported.(10)

The current situation between Turks and Germans has not afforded many improvements since the 1990s. Obstacles in the housing, education, and employment markets continue to plague today’s Turks. There is also evidence suggesting that Turks deal with wage discrimination and disproportionately high housing payments.

In terms of the housing situation, evidence lends to the fact that Turks experience major discrimination when it comes to purchasing a place of residence.

Of all the national groups, Turks were least able to escape the social discrimination in the housing market…Recent evidence points to housing discrimination as the main cause for poor housing and exclusion of Turks from housing integration in Germany.(11)

Housing reports indicate that four out of five Turks live in overcrowded residences.(12) In general, Turks tend to be faced with poor housing conditions. However, it is essential to note that overall, housing conditions are much better now than they were at the creation of the Gastarbeiter program. As stated earlier, guest workers were often living in housing complexes that did not have plumbing hook-ups when they first came to Germany. This has obviously been rectified, but housing conditions are still sub-par. Turks frequently live in overcrowded and run-down buildings.

Aside from living in overcrowded buildings, Turks often tend to be isolated from the rest of German society, living in “clumps.” High unemployment and poverty levels and housing discrimination experienced by all Turks create a difficult housing situation, one that causes them to live in the same housing districts. One can often find entire neighborhoods in places like Berlin, such as the Kreuzberg district, which has a vast amount of Turks living there. The current population of Kreuzberg (as of June 30, 2007) is 147,803 residents. Of this, one-fourth is Turkish residents, putting the Kreuzberg Turkish population at 36,950. Turkish Culture in German Society Today estimates that fifty percent of all Turks have relatives living near their home. Thirty-eight percent of all Turks visit their relatives on a daily basis, while thirty-nine percent visit their relatives at least once a week. These figures contribute to the fact that forty percent of all Turks living in Germany still cannot speak German.(13) When large numbers of Turks live in concentrated areas throughout Germany, it creates an environment where they have little day-to-day contact with Germans outside of school and work. This situation has its obvious advantages, but various disadvantages that are not helping better the relationship between Turks and Germans. By living in such close proximity to each other, Turks find a “climate of emotional security for themselves and a social solidarity within their communities.”(14)

Living near other Turks can be advantageous, but it also has its downfalls. One of the largest disadvantages with this situation is the “divided world” Turks can experience. While out working or attending school, Turks follow German customs and traditions. Yet, upon arriving at home they enter their Turkish world and their Turkish traditions take over. It is imperative to remember one’s heritage and traditions. Turks should remember their Turkish roots and traditions while at home. This separation of work and home is healthy. But this separation tends to be too great of a degree for Turks, because they tend to completely separate themselves from German society outside of school and work. By living in neighborhoods that solely consist of Turks, they are not allowing themselves to become more integrated in the German culture and tradition. “Most Turks in Germany live in two divergent cultures with contrasting behavior codes and patterns of belonging. At work or school, German culture tends to dominate, while during leisure time social lines divide along ethnic lines.”(15)

Kürsat-Ahlers also believes that these continual divided environments can cause psychological problems for Turks.

Everyday life is a continual ‘border-crossing,’ a continual switch between cultural environments. This bi-polarity can be culturally enriching, but may also produce psychological stress and a high degree of ambivalence for members of minority groups in Germany…Most Turks, even those of the second generation, live in ethnically homogenous friendship networks and are more segregated from Germans than other national groups.(16)

 In addition to living in overcrowded and poor housing developments, Turks also face higher rent prices. Jews, Turks, and Other Strangers states that Turks pay upwards of 20 percent more than Germans for a piece of property of the same standard.

Although an indication of the unfair treatment that Turks continue to receive, this disproportionate difference in housing payments would not be such a problem if Turks were not currently experiencing high levels of poverty and unemployment. Another effect of reunification was the increased levels of unemployment for Germans and Turks that still remains in Germany today.  The east German Bundesländer continue to face higher unemployment levels than the rest of Germany, with levels hovering close to 30 percent.(17) This percentage is almost triple the rate found in the rest of Germany, where unemployment levels are between nine and ten percent. Now compare this with the current Turkish unemployment rates. Overall, the Turkish population has a current unemployment rate of 25 percent, only five percent less than East Germany.(18) With a population close to 2 million, that puts almost 800,000 Turks in the unemployment category.

The unemployment numbers for both the Turkish and East German populations are devastating. Is it something that Turks in Germany should become accustomed to, a future faced with unemployment? High unemployment rates do not offer Turks in Germany much hope or faith in the future. Changes need to be made somewhere in the economy so that the unemployment rates for both East Germans and Turks can drop, not continue to increase in the years to come.  

For those who do manage to find employment in Germany, wage discrimination becomes the next obstacle for Turks to overcome. It is difficult to effectively state how much less Turks earn in comparison to Germans, but wage discrimination continues to exist. Sources such as “The Turkish Minority in German Society” and Jews, Turks, and Other Strangers: The Roots of Prejudice in Modern Germany, both cite that Turks continue to earn less than Germans do for the same position. Both authors suggest that Turks earn anywhere from ten to fifteen percent less than Germans do for the same position. Unfortunately, because it is difficult to accurately determine how frequently wage discrimination occurs; it is not easy to prosecute firms who allow this to occur.

Wage discrimination, high levels of unemployment, and disproportionately higher rent payments have helped contribute to a high poverty level for Turks in Germany. According to “The Turkish Minority in German Society”, 38 percent of all Turks are below the poverty line. The poverty line in Germany is defined as: Those whose earnings are less than 60 percent of national income average ($1,185 per family per month)(19)

Another difficulty for Turks is the level of education they receive. ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”” reports that 44 percent of all Turkish pupils finish with the lowest form of education, the Hauptschulabschluss. This translates into low-paying, and often insecure or temporary jobs. Students finishing with the Haupschultabschluss do not have the chance to study at a university or seek employment that is outside the vocational field.

Finally, a small number of Turks, around six percent, pass the Abitur, the exam that allows them to study at a German university. “The Turkish Minority in German Society” clarifies that not all Turkish students who pass the Abitur continue on to study at a German university. Yet, according to this source, around 0.8 percent of Turks receive a university education. 

There are two reasons for the low number of Turks studying at German universities. First, very few Turks actually take and pass the Abitur, which gives them entrance to German universities. Second, Turks are still considered “foreign applicants” when applying to a university. Even if they have been born in Germany, their status is still deemed as “foreign.” Hence, these Turkish students have to compete with the thousands of other international students who are seeking spots at a German university.

There are several factors that help contribute to this current education situation. Turkish pupils continue to face ongoing cultural and linguistic difficulties. For children who are brought up speaking only Turkish at home, the transition to becoming bilingual is a huge obstacle to overcome. Turkish pupils tend to isolate themselves when at a German school, affording them the opportunity to not speak (or improve for that matter) their German proficiency. Continued cultural stigmatization and isolation from German classmates often evoke little or no desire in Turks to attend school. Antje Harnisch, editor of Fringe Voices: An Anthology of Minority Writing in the Federal Republic of Germany outlines the separation that Turkish pupils experience in school.

The German state doesn’t exactly help to remove one’s fears of one another…There’s a lot of talk of integration but Turks are nonetheless increasingly cut off from Germans when they are stuck in Turkish classes with the excuse that they can’t speak very good German…Even some Turks who have mastered German are stuck in these classes.(20)

This statement from Ayse confirms what Kürsat-Ahlers of ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”” has also proposed. Both sources claim that Turkish pupils tend to be segregated at German schools, in part due to language difficulties. 

Jews, Turks, and Other Strangers outlines another educational difficulty for Turks. German schools tend to expect a fair amount of parental involvement when it comes to homework or other school activities. Meeting this expectation can be somewhat problematic for Turkish parents. Helping their children with homework or meeting with teachers can be problematic when Turkish parents do not have sufficient German skills. If their children are bilingual, then the problem can be solved by having children translate from German to Turkish with homework or when meeting with teachers or school officials. Hence, this area of parental involvement is not a major problem for today’s Turks, but is worth mentioning.

Religious differences are another obstacle for today’s Turks. Several legal roadblocks have been put in to place over the last decade, making religious devotion difficult at times. One of the largest blows to Islam was the banning of the muezzin, or the position of calling Muslims to prayer and worship. All sixteen Bundesländer have banned the muezzin, claiming that it would disturb daily activities too much. “Neighbors object that it disturbs the peace; however, the hourly church bell chimes are not considered a disturbance.”(21)

Although many of Shore’s claims in his book Breeding Bin Ladens tend to be questionable and are at times outright extreme, I have to agree with him on this claim.(22) The act of banning the muezzin on the basis that it “disturbs the peace” in Germany is very hypocritical and unfair to Muslims. At least one church in every German town and city chimes its bells every fifteen minutes normally from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. everyday. Taking it one step further, almost all churches chime the bells for half an hour before the start of service every Sunday morning. The adhan, or the Islamic call to worship, is only five times a day. This is significantly less than the number of times church bells chime on a daily basis. Yet, the muezzin is not allowed in any of the Bundesländer.

Another religious legal conflict in Germany is the issue of the hijab, or headscarf. It is crucial to point out that Germany has responded more moderately to the issue than France has, where since 2004 it is illegal to wear the hijab to school because it is viewed as a visible religious sign. The debate over the hijab has been going on in France since the 1980s. Muslim girls who wear the headscarf to school often face expulsion, and hundreds have been since the early 1990s.

As stated before, the current struggle in Germany is nowhere near as strict or volatile as in France, yet the conflict is still present. As of 2006, four of the Bundesländer have banned teachers from wearing the hijab to school.(23) Muslim girls are still allowed to don the headscarf at school, but the debate about this issue is currently present in Germany. If the action against Muslim teachers is any indication of future reforms, the ban on the headscarf might extend to schoolgirls in the years to come.

The various legal reforms placed on Muslims in Germany are indeed unfair, for they strike at the very heart of Islamic beliefs. However, current Turkish religious trends seem to suggest that perhaps the various bans are not a major struggle for Turks. It is estimated that between eight and ten percent of Turks in Germany are devout, practicing Muslims.(24) This translates into about 200,000 devout Muslim Turks in Germany. This number is small in comparison to the entire Turkish population. Shore explains in Breeding Bin Ladens that the devout Muslim population of Turks is much larger and continuing to grow. He states that as Turkish Muslims continue to experience hate and prejudice, they gravitate more and more to becoming devout Muslims. “The Turkish Minority in German Society” cites a similar argument as well. “It is all the more understandable that for Turks in Germany a sense of insecurity, lack of orientation and even social desperation have encouraged a higher level of identification with Islam.”(25)

Kürsat-Ahlers also claims that the number of Turks gravitating towards Islam is increasing, but not by the leaps and bounds that Shore states in Breeding Bin Ladens.

Although the vast majority of Turks are not devout Muslims, many do turn to the mosques and Islamic organizations to find support and community within Germany.

In general, mosques appear to be stepping in with help for Turks and other Muslims in Germany. Mosques tend to provide Turks with self-help groups, free meal distributions for poverty stricken families, education courses for women, and drug rehabilitation for addicts. Mosques have even started filling the role of banks by extending credit to individuals wanting to start a business or bailing out families on the brink of bankruptcy.(26) One of the greatest strengths of mosques in Germany is the sense of fellowship and kinship they offer for Turks. Here, Turks can meet and spend time with friends and family, meeting in a place that offers relaxation, food, and fellowship separate from their day-to-day lives.

There are also various Islamic organizations in Germany that offer support and community for Turks. Organizations such as Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Görüş in Cologne, Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland in Aachen, and Ahymadiyya Muslim Jamaat Deutschland in Frankfurt am Main that all provide Muslims, including Turks, with support and community in Germany.

Charles Taylor stated in “Religion and European Integration” that Europeans are becoming more religious in response to the growing Islamic numbers throughout Europe. According to Phillip Jenkins in God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, Great Britain is experiencing the largest revival of religion, not mainland Europe. According to Andy Peck’s “What the Mega Church Can Teach You,” in Christianity Magazine (2006), there are nine churches in Great Britain that have weekly attendance over 2,000 members, with two that have attendance over 10,000 each week.(27) France has also experienced religious growth, with Protestant churches boasting a member increase of 350,000.  This rise in religion has been brought upon not by native French, but by immigrants. “This [rise in religion] is chiefly the result of immigration from Francophone Africa, but newcomers from Asia and the French Carribean, les Antilles, have also contributed.”(28)

Taylor’s statement is similar to the religious numbers presented in Jenkins’ God’s Continent. Yet, Taylor’s claim is fairly broad, stating that “Europeans” are becoming more religious in response to Islam’s growing numbers. This is indeed the case, but Jenkins narrows the scope by showing that Great Britain, not mainland Europe, is experiencing the largest religious growth. France and Germany are some of the other European countries seeing growing numbers, but not among the native population.

Overall, religion among the general German population is declining. Only twenty-one percent of Germans state that religion “plays a very important role” in their lives.(29) Even smaller is the weekly average church attendance numbers, twelve percent of all Germans attending church regularly, with the Evangelical church reporting that its membership has been cut in half over the last half cent0) One could surmise that religion is on its way out of Germany, but this in fact not the case. Jenkins reports in God’s Continent that another ethnic minority has experienced a religious revival in Germany, namely African immigrants. The African immigrant religious community has grown tremendously in Germany since the 1970s, with over 80,000 members to date. Germany has over two hundred Nigerian based Protestant churches throughout the country, including major cities such as Hamburg, Berlin, and Frankfurt. African missionaries to Germany established steady Bible studies and fellowship groups in cities such as Kalsruhe and Kiel in 1993 that still exist to this day. In 1992, a missionary from Ghana founded a Christian Church Outreach Mission in Hamburg, and there are now over twelve sister churches throughout the country. Abraham Bediako, the founder of the original church in Hamburg, describes it as “an international, non-denominational multi-racial church and a full-gospel, charismatic faith congregation.”(31)

The growth and expansion of African churches in Germany clearly shows that religion is not on the way out in Germany, at least among immigrants. Attendance and religious devotion among Germans may be continuing to decline, but other ethnic minorities such as Africans in Germany are now occupying the religious scene.

It may be natural to assume that the struggle between Turks and Germans is brought about due to an “Islam vs. Christianity” debate. This does not seem to be the case in Germany, due to both the low number of devoutly religious Turks and native Germans. As stated before, there is a growing trend among both Turks and Germans to identify with Islam and Christianity respectively. However, this does not justify religious lines being drawn between Germans and Turks.

The final challenge that both Turks and Germans are dealing with is in fact the largest, the question of identity. Due to the Gastarbeiter program of the 1960s and the more open immigration stance Germany took up in the 1980s, immigrants have been pouring in to Germany in large numbers. The admittance of Eastern European countries to the European Union has allowed for a huge influx of immigrants to Germany seeking better employment opportunities. These conditions have created an atmosphere in Germany of questioning one’s identity. Overall, Turkish intellectuals and authors have become the most outspoken in this struggle. 

Şinasi Dikmen, is a prime example. Born in Samsun Turkey, in 1948, he immigrated to West Germany is 1972 as a Gastarbeiter. Since the dissolution of the Gastarbeiter program he has become a professional comedian and popular satirist. Using the stage as his medium, he is one Turk who is questioning his identity in Germany.  

I was born in Turkey and raised Turkish. I attended a Turkish school, came to Germany as a Turkish guest worker, and registered with the Immigration office as a Turk. My health insurance, pension, and auto categorize me under the nationality ‘Turk.” I speak Turkish at home with my children (as much as possible)...I love Turkish, ate Turkish, hate Turkish…and I really believed I was Turkish until the following incident occurred.(32)

Şinasi once traveled from Hannover to Hameln to participate in a reading. His hostess was a Turkish-born German woman. Dikmen describes Elisabeth as “a perfect Turkish” hostess during his stay, even giving him food for his trip back to Hannover. Dikmen then began to question the identity of this woman. “Was Elisabeth a Turk? I don’t think so. We spoke German, although she could speak Turkish as well. Was she a German? No, not that either. She was an excellent hostess and a good person.”(33)

While still pondering this question, Dikmen then proceeded to get on the train and found himself in a compartment with an older couple. He ate his meal and read a German newspaper, Die Zeit. A “real” Turk then entered his compartment and asked if one of the seats was free. The woman barked at him that nothing was free, causing the Turk to leave. Dikmen then asked this elderly woman why she had said no, because three seats were still available. She said that she would not like to sit in a compartment with someone like that. He then questioned what she meant by “someone like that.” After some probing she admitted that she did not want to be in the presence of a Turk. She found Turks to be “dark looking and arrogant.” Dikmen then retorted that she was in fact in the presence of a Turk. At first she doesn’t believe him. He offered to show her his Turkish passport as proof. She said that was not necessary because there was no way he could be a Turk. The following dialogue ensued.

‘Why are you so certain?’
‘First of all, yes, hmm, first of all, I don’t know, but hmm, there is no way you are a Turk.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because, hmm, because how should I say it, hmm, because you are reading Die Zeit.’(34)

Dikmen then finishes his anecdote with this statement. “I don’t know how many readers of Die Zeit there are in Germany-maybe one, two, three, four, five hundred thousand or a million. There 60 million alleged Germans living in Germany. Because not all read Die Zeit, I guess that Germans who do not read Die Zeit are not Germans but Turks instead.”(35)

Taking into account the status of Die Zeit in Germany, it is thereby easier to understand why this elderly German woman had a hard time grasping Dikmen’s heritage.(36) She could not believe that Turk could be able to read and comprehend the articles of a staunchly liberal German newspaper.

Dikmen articulately and clearly outlines the identity issue facing Turks in Germany. He had considered himself to be a Turk until this event. The woman on the train could not believe that he was of Turkish descent, for he spoke perfect German and was reading a German newspaper. Dikmen’s title fits perfectly. Who is a Turk? This question is so difficult to answer because Turks tend to be caught in a vicious cycle in Germany. They’re too Turkish for Germany and too different to really fit in Germany. But they’re too German and westernized to fit in Turkey. The editors of Germany in Transit believe that Turks especially are caught in an “…identity gap. Not yet at home, no longer at home there.”(37)

Feridun Zaimoglu is another Turkish born German grappling with the issue of identity in Germany. In one of his most acclaimed critical works, Kanak Sprak, or Kanaki Speak, he clearly outlines the identity issue. The title of this work also plays with the identity issue and the German idea of Turks. Kanak is a derogatory German term for second or third generation Turks in Germany. By using this term in the title of his book, he effectively shows Germans and Turks that he is peacefully battling the stereotypes Turks deal with living in Germany. 

One of Zaimoglu’s most interesting claims is that Turks currently living in Germany do not take a great interest in Turkey beyond going there on vacation “…They, like most Germans, take not the slightest interest in Turkey except as a holiday destination.”(38)

He then goes on to state that Turks are met with hostility and anger when they do back to Turkey on vacation. “In Turkish towns and villages, they are met with hostility, as ‘almancı’ or ‘Deutschländer’-little Germans.”(39)

Zaimoglu strongly believes that this situation-being met with hostility and a feeling of inferiority in both Germany and Turkey-is causing serious issues for second and third generation Turks. 

But the Kanaki as a self-confident individual only exists in his passport photo anyway. He lives with a permanent feeling of inferiority, of having lost his way, gone astray. A good number end up as sick exotica in secure wards: impotence as self-inflicted mutilation, depression, and schizophrenia. Those who stay out form a new form of fashionable appropriation: multiculturalism.(40)

Zaimoglu appears to side with Kürsat-Ahlers when it comes to the psychological stress living in Germany can bring upon Turks. Both have explained that because Turks tend to live in two worlds, their “German” world and their Turkish world, strain and psychological difficulties can become an issue. He, however, goes even further and states that Turks are not self-confident individuals that this supposed confidence exists only “in his passport photo.”(41)

Zaimoglu’s introduction to Kanaki Speak continues to become more somber and sullen as it comes to a close. He paints a world in Germany where Turkish parents demand allegiance and loyalty to all things Turkish which can cause “a number of these children to commit suicide; many others come down with psychosomatic illnesses.”(42)

He also states “the straitjacket of German bureaucracy strangles any possible assimilation. The path is clear toward the complete dissolution of the group-which was never a ‘homogeneous ethnicity.’”(43)

Zaimoglu’s work presents a very bleak picture for the current relationship between Turks and Germans, particularly when it comes to identity.(44) As shown above, bureaucracy has destroyed his hopes for assimilation and successful multiculturalism. His tense and descriptive passages portray a place where Turks are met with derogatory stereotypes in Germany and hateful vindictive anger in Turkey, causing huge identity issues.

This identity struggle is not a one-sided issue. Germans too are grappling with the question of their identity. Their identity questions have been brought about due to the Gastarbeiter program and the increase of immigrants and political refugees seeking asylum since the 1980s. Germany has also seen a huge increase in Eastern European immigrants since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism. Millions of immigrants have moved to Germany since 1992, leaving struggling Eastern European countries with the hope of a better life in Germany.(45)

The massive wave of immigrants since the 1980s and the high number of Turks that have remained in Germany since the end of the Gastarbeiter program in 1973 have placed Germans in the same identity struggle as Turks. Kesselman, clearly outlines the identity issue currently facing Germans.

The opening of East Germany produced an influx of refugees and asylum seekers beginning in the late 1980s. This influx has placed great strains on a country that paradoxically has had generous political asylum laws but significant restrictions on non-Germans’ attaining citizenship. These factors have helped produce increased ethnic tensions as German nationalism, understandably suppressed since the end of World War II, has shown some signs of resurgence. In fact, the unification of Germany has partially contributed to this resurgence, as some younger Germans-two generations after the end of World War II-are asking what being German actually means.(46)

The fact that both Turks and Germans are struggling with their identities in Germany does not help either side in their relationship. Neither side is completely secure in their identities as Germans or Turks, which is not helping improve their situation. And sadly, answers for this identity struggle are hard to come by. Sources such as Dikmen’s “Who Is A Turk?” and even Kesselman’s brief paragraph in European Politics in Transition both end with a question as to the identity of Turks and Germans respectively. Germany has struggled so greatly with the influx of immigrants and guest workers since the 1960s. “The German experience is dominated by the idea that Germany is not a country of immigration…In Germany if you are of Turkish descent you cannot be German.”(47)

The CDU political statement that was cited earlier in this text, where its politicians openly proclaimed that Germany was “not a land of immigration” up through the early 1980s, ultimately confirms the former part of Modood’s statement. The latter part of his statement is unfortunately difficult to confirm or deny. Yet, the unrelenting strained relationship between Turks and Germans lends weight to the latter part of Modood’s statement. The hatred and anger that Turks have faced since the 1960s show that it is nearly impossible to be considered German if one is of Turkish descent.

In the battle to overcome identity issues, it appears to be Turkish and German youth who are taking the lead. Turkish and German youth in Cologne banded together in the mid 1990s to found Bodrum, the largest Turkish disco in Europe. Turkish pop music is most frequently played, but German house and hip-hop music is also featured. And its weekly residents boast that Bodrum, which is close to Cologne’s massive cathedral, is a place of tolerance and security for both sides. “Indeed, as a German, no one feels like a foreigner in the Bodrum…No one here is xenophobic, contrary to what happens outside these walls.”(48)

The owners of Bodrum cannot accurately cite how many Germans attend the club on a nightly basis, but Germans and Turks alike are dancing, drinking, and enjoying themselves side by side in order to put aside racial and social differences, at least for one night. This small step is encouraging in the continually twisted and troubled Turkish-German relationship.

The German-Turkish relationship and the integration of Turks in Germany is an on-going process. All the difficulties that Turks must combat such as housing discrimination and high levels of poverty do not help make Turks feel at home. Also, the fact that both Germans and Turks are questioning their identities is also causing problems. Rafael Seligmann, an editor in chief of Germany’s The Atlantic Timeswonderfully points out the current situation between Turks and Germans in his October 2007 article “Preventing Extremism: Muslims need to be better integrated into German society.” In this one page article, Seligmann states that the crucial point in the weak relationship between Germans and Turks is time wasted. “But the crucial point is how much time both sides wasted before pursuing integration. After twenty years of immigration…both the immigrants themselves and the German authorities should have realized that it was high time for foreigners living here to integrate.”(49)

Seligmann is not a native born German, for he was actually born in Tel Aviv in 1947 but immigrated to Munich, Germany with his parents in 1957. He has done vast work for newspapers such as Die Zeitin Berlin and Der Spiegel, and has been one of the editors in chief of The Atlantic Timessince 2004. Perhaps due to being born in Israel gives him this more open integration perspective. Yet, he has lived in Germany since the age of 10. The majority of his life has been spent in major German cities. His open integration perspective is welcoming and refreshing, and a major sign of encouragement for the relationship between Turks and Germans. He also clearly states that both Turks and Germans need to make changes to improve their relationship, placing blame on both sides.

What is really important is for the German majority to realize that we have long been a land of immigration and we must come to terms with that by fostering integration to the best of our ability. However, that can only be successful if immigrants choose to get involved with Germany, learn German, and urge their children to do the same. That is the only way to cut the hate down to size and prepare the way for everyone to work together within German society.(50)

Seligmann is not the only one trying to repair the damaged relationship between Turks and Germans. One of the major steps the German government took was changing its citizenship law in 2000. Prior to 2000, Germany did not have an ius soli law, which allows a person to gain citizenship for being born on German soil. Citizenship was determined by Jus sanguinis, which means one is granted the citizenship of their parents. Hence, a second generation Turk born in Germany was not granted German citizenship prior to 2000. He or she was granted Turkish citizenship. The 2000 citizenship reform afforded Turks and all immigrants a major victory. It was determined that an ius soli law would be put in to place, but with one major stipulation. A non-German child born on German soil will be granted German citizenship if one parent has lived in Germany for eight years or more and has corresponding permanent resident status. Yet, dual citizenship is not allowed. Hence, immigrant children born on German soil are allowed to retain dual citizenship until the age of twenty-three. They must then release the hold of their parent’s citizenship in order to retain German citizenship. The introduction of this new citizenship law was indeed a positive step in repairing the relationship between Turks and Germans. However, the ban on dual citizenship creates a problem for immigrants who are questioning their identity. How can Turks be expected to choose a citizenship if they do not feel they fit in either country? The introduction of the ius soli citizenship right is an important victory for immigrants and Turks alike. The ban on dual citizenship is the only major problem at this time, because it forces immigrants and Turks to make an incredibly difficult and possibly painful decision.

Although the German government introduced the ius soli citizenship right in 2000, a possible citizenship test could make the process all the more difficult. Proposed in 2006, and favored by Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, and other conservative parties; this 100 question test would be given to foreigners and immigrants hoping to gain German citizenship. With questions such as “Which German physicist revolutionized medical diagnosis in 1895?” or “Which convention gathered at St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt in 1848?” the test could be a way to keep immigrants from becoming German citizens. Advocates of this test claim “a nationwide citizenship test would just be a way of ensuring that applicants are truly ready to be German.”(51)

Some believe that this test can be used to help keep out Muslim extremists, a way of stating, “don’t bother applying for citizenship.”  However, this test is already administered in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg and is “unofficially called the Muslim test.”(52)

There is no mention of how much it would cost to take this test, but some speculate that Germany will follow in Dutch footsteps. The Netherlands introduced a mandatory citizenship test in 2006 based primarily on a two-hour video put out by the government. The test costs $420 each time it is taken, and the video costs an additional $80. This puts some at a huge disadvantage, for not everyone has $500 to spend on a citizenship test whose difficult questions offer no guarantee of passing.

Fortunately, there are those in Germany who are advocating against this proposed statewide citizenship test. Steffen Angenendt, director of the International Migration Program at the German Council on Foreign Affairs states:

I think the signal is completely wrong…We need immigrants, and we desperately need to develop another way of perceiving immigrants. There is a completely wrong idea of what is an immigrant in Germany. The success stories, the stories of upward mobility of immigrants, are ignored in Germany. None of these politicians are saying: ‘We are proud of having immigrants in Germany. We are proud of those who have done well and are moving up in German society.’ This language is completely missing from German politics.(53)

One of the final, and most important German positive steps was the September 2006 German Islamic Conference held in Berlin. Wolfgang Schäuble, the Interior Minister for the CDU, organized this conference. Fifteen German politicians from the CDU, the SPD, Germany’s Socialist party; and the CSU, Bavaria’s chapter of the CDU; and fifteen Islamic intellectuals and political activists, including Feridun Zaimoglu, a renowned Turkish-German author and critic; met over a three-day period to dialogue the German state’s relationship with Islam. It was clearly outlined that the conference was not an “Islam vs. Christianity” debate, merely an outlet to dialogue about means for better Turkish-German relations. Topics such as the allowance of mosques being built, to Islamic education in public schools, rights for Islamic women, and security for Muslims and Germans were discussed.  This conference also provided Germans and Muslims the opportunity to constructively criticize conditions for both sides in Germany. Solutions agreed upon at this conference were to be re-evaluated six months later to determine what further steps need to be taken, but the conference website does not indicate what its next step will be. Nevertheless, this conference is an encouraging step in improving German-Turkish relations.

In addition to Germans calling for changes, Turkish citizens are also reaching out to repair the relationship between them and Germans. One of the most prominent examples is the German born Turkish director, Fatih Akin. Akin was born to Turkish parents in Hamburg in 1973, and studied visual communications at the Hamburg College of Fine Arts. His films are known for delving deeply into Turkish-German relations and overall have been very well received and praised.

Gegen die Wand, or “Head On,” his 2004 film is one of the most highly praised. It received the Golden Bear at the 2004 Berlin Film and “Best Film” at the 2004 European Film Awards. Gegen die Wand is a tragic love story that focuses on the lives of two Turks living in Germany. Cahit was born in Turkey but moved to Germany during the Gastarbeiter program. Depressed and feeling completely out of place in Germany, he seeks alcohol and hard drugs to numb his pain. After trying to commit suicide, he ends up in a psychiatric clinic where he meets Sibel, a suicidal German born Turkish young woman looking for a way to break free from her strict Turkish parents and the perpetual emptiness she feels in Germany. They agree to marry under casual terms, where both are free to seek other relationships. Slowly, they fall in love with each other but not before Cahit murders one of Sibel’s lovers. He is imprisoned, Sibel is sent back to Istanbul and although the two are reunited after Cahit’s release, Sibel cannot leave her young child and new life in Istanbul. The film ends with Cahit boarding a bus alone in Istanbul and Sibel sitting on her bed at home.

Although Akin’s movie is at times incredibly depressing, the cinematography and acting are phenomenal. Birol Ünel, who played Cahit, and Sibel Kekili, who played Sibel, both beautifully capture the angst and pain Turks in Germany can be caught up in. Akin portrays Sibel and Cahit as Turkish Germans who are trapped in Germany, trapped in the question of how they are and how to find satisfaction in life. The fact that the movie ends rather tragically, with Cahit and Sibel not reuniting, makes one wonder how Akin views the future of Turks in Germany. Although Gegen die Wand presents a fairly bleak look into Turks in Germany, it is still an important piece of repairing the relationship between Turks and Germans. Akin is refusing to remain silent on this issue, and is using film as the medium to voice his opinion.

There are also several Turkish music groups in Germany that are trying to raise awareness of the struggle between Turks and Germans through their music. They encourage political and social awareness about the issue on both sides of the spectrum, and condemn violence against Germans. One example is the band Millitürk, a Düsseldorf based-punk disco band that was formed in the 1980s. Their lyrics frequently play on the German work for military, Militär, and the Turkish adjective milli, which means “national.” One of their most popular songs, “Millitürk” speaks about the future of Turks in Germany. It was written before the fall of Communism, hence the various references to the Soviet Union and KGB spies.

Kebab dreams in the walled-in city
Turk culture behind barbed wire
New Izmir in the GDR
Atatürk the new Man
The Nation for the Soviet Union
A spy at every fast-food joint
A Turkish agent in the Central Committee
German, Germany, everything is gone
We are the Turks of tomorrow(54)

One could argue that this song, written in 1980, does not pertain to today’s Turkish-German relationship. Yet, it still offers Turks hope. The fact that Millitürk believed Turkish culture could survive despite being behind barbed wire offers should offer hope to Turks in Germany today. Millitürk refused to give up on living in Germany despite the hardships they were faced with, something that should give determination and hope to other Turks.

Another Turkish music group that is paving the way for better German-Turkish relations is the rap group, Cartel. They worked in the mid 1990s in Germany to give hope to German-Turkish youth. They are trying to battle what Yasemin Karakaşoğlu from the Center for Turkish Studies at the University of Essen identifies as the struggle Turks face in modern Germany. “Young people notice that there’s no place reserved for them in the German world. They run into prejudices wherever they go.”(55)

The Turkish rap/hip-hop band Cartel got tired of this scenario and began to aggressively address the problems of German-Turkish youths. The band experienced fair success in Turkey, and small success in Germany since their formation in 1995. They founded their group with the goal of introducing the German world to Turkish music. Funky, hip-hop and rap texts were laced with Middle-Eastern and Egyptian beats, producing a new and fused music genre that appealed to the Turkish youth in both Germany and Turkey. One of the band’s members Alper A. saw their work as a defense against the stereotypes and prejudice that Turks in Germany experience.

For us, hip-hop is like an outlet. Hop-hip offers cohesion, a defense against those elements that threaten to tear the young Deutschländer apart: the music is both Western and Middle Eastern, the language half Turkish, half German…The ‘ethnic revival’ is not a recollection of past values but rather a fusion of two galaxies. The result is the universe of the Kanaks.(56)

Cartel took the same stance against the word Kanak that Zaimoglu did in his work, Kanak Sprak. Kanak is a demeaning and derogatory German term for second or third generation Turks in Germany. Both Cartel and Zaimoglu are turning the tide with this word, using it to describe themselves instead of letting it slip from the mouth of a German as a curse word. “Kanaks. This term means turning the tables. This is the point for Cartel. The band took the term by which Turks have long been abused in Germany and made a proud, aggressive trademark out of it.”(57)

Unfortunately Cartel disbanded in 1996, merely a year after their formation, due to fighting among the band members. Their work, however, is not forgotten and deserves attention as an outlet to fight against the weak Turkish-German relationship.

Although both sides are making efforts to work against hatred and bitterness between Turks and Germans, the efforts appear to be lopsided. More attention to the Turkish effort may appear to be the focus of this exploration, yet this was not intentional. The fact is that more Turkish intellectuals and artists appear to be making the step towards repairing the relationship. One is easily able to find works on the struggle by Turkish-German authors. German born Turks or Turkish born intellectuals who have immigrated to Germany are the loudest voice in the protest today. Authors and intellectuals such as Dikmen, Zaimoglu, Kerim Pamuk, and Dilek Zaptcioglu are all speaking out against the bitter German-Turkish relationship. Turkish filmmakers and bands are using the media as their outlet to raise awareness and ask for change in Germany. This is, however, not the case for German authors and filmmakers. Aside from a few newspaper articles, such as the ones included in this work, works by native Germans are not found. Advocacy for change in German-Turkish relations comes predominantly from the Turkish side.

Nevertheless, there is still time for Germans to change this situation and speak out. Although they are not speaking out as frequently as Turks in Germany are, the issue does not end tomorrow. The work between Turks and Germans is nowhere near finished. There are still serious steps that need to be made in order to continue strengthening the fragile relationship. One of the largest changes that need to be made is with language acquisition. It is estimated that forty percent of all Turks in Germany still do not possess adequate German skills.(58) Free or low-cost language courses need to be offered to Turks in order to help them improve their German. Child-care or day-care would most likely need to be provided in conjunction with these courses in order to encourage Turkish mothers with young children to attend these courses. Miscommunication can often result in problems, regardless of the relationship. Perhaps employment agencies or even mosques, which already provide so much for Turks in Germany, could step in and house the German language courses and day-care facilities.

Unemployment and poverty could be lowered among Turks if language courses were to be offered. One of the main reasons for the high unemployment among Turks is due to their poor German skills. If Turks were given the opportunity to learn German for free or at an extremely low cost, they could then apply and be hired for better paying and secure jobs that could break the cycle of unemployment and poverty that continue to hound Turks.

Another change needed is the housing situation. Housing changes need to be made somewhere as well to permit Turks and Germans to live in closer proximity to each other. One of the culprits of the weakened relationship between Turks and Germans is because Turks tend to live “segregated” from German communities. If housing prices were to be fair and rent discrimination were to disappear, Turks could be provided with the opportunity to live in neighborhoods with Germans, not just other Turks. Segregation is also due in part to a choice made by Turks. Despite being faced with rent discrimination, Turks continue to show the tendency to seek living among other Turks. If more Turks were to move in to predominantly German neighborhoods or vice versa, some of the cultural barriers and miscommunication could possibly be broken.

Along with language courses, courses on Turkish traditions and the history of Islam should be made available to Germans outside of primary school. Some schools in Germany have begun to offer Turkish courses, including history courses on Islam, but they are not available to the general German population. Turks are not leaving Germany, and in order to reduce some of the friction, Germans need to gain more awareness about the Turkish culture. A tandem cultural program could be founded, with Turks opening up their homes to Germans for a day and vice versa. Germans could observe how Turks live on a day-to-day basis and gain perspective about their lives. Germans could also gain a better understanding about Islam if courses on the history of Islam were to be offered by churches or at schools. As stated earlier, the number of devout practicing Turks in Germany is quite low in comparison to the rest of the population. Nevertheless, there are devout Muslim Turks in Germany and their religion and its history need to be understood. Germans could even visit mosques whereas Turks could visit churches throughout Germany. A greater understanding of both the German and Turkish cultures would hopefully contribute to better relations on both sides.

Finally, both sides need voices to continually speak out against the hatred and prejudice that Germans and Turks are experiencing. Authors such as Zaimoglu and Seligmann, filmmakers such as Fatih Akin, and bands such as Cartel and Millitürk need to continue to rise up in Germany to raise cultural and social awareness about Germans and Turks. Tevfik Baser, a German born Turkish filmmaker sums up the situation perfectly.

What should I do…I was born in Turkey. And the fact that I have a German passport does not make me German. I simply have a different cultural background that will not suddenly change with a new citizenship…I do see Turkish problems when I look around. After all, the Turks have been here for thirty years, not since Saturday or Sunday. Europe has always been a multi-cultural society whether it wants to be or not.(59)

In conclusion, Arpel A. of the band Cartel poignantly and bluntly states his view on the situation. “Whether I’m a German, a Turk, or a Chinese is of no importance to me whatsoever. We are entering the twenty-first century, and this question is truly medieval.”(60)

Arpel A.’s comment offers a hopeful message for the Turkish-German relationship. He is an individual who is willing to peacefully work to better the Turkish-German relationship. He is able to look past the stereotypes, the identity struggles, and everything that entails the struggling Turkish-German relationship. The hope is that more individuals can reach the point that Arpel A. has, and advocate for a positive change between Turks and Germans.

What is imperative for the relationship between Germans and Turks is communication. The 2006 German-Islamic Conference held in Berlin offers a glimmer of hope for German-Turkish relations. It is not known at this time if there will be another conference, but the hope is that more conferences and debates will take place. Opportunities like this conference afford both Turks and Germans the possibility to speak out and advocate for change. Neither side can afford to remain silent if betterment of the relationship is desired. Germans and Turks need to continue to break the silence, not push the issues under the rug, and actively pursue improvements for change to occur. Artists such as Fatih Akin or Cartel need to use the media to spur positive involvement. Turkish and German intellectuals and authors need to continue to critique German-Turkish relations and call for a better relationship. What is crucial for German-Turkish relations is the continual desire for positive change and the courage to advocate it taking place.


1 Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens: America, Islam, and the Future of Europe, 98.
2 Phillip Jenkins, Gods Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis.
3 Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie, The Handbook of Bilingualism, 695.
4 Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens: America, Islam, and the Future of Europe, 51.
5 Jerome S. Legge Jr. Jews, Turks, and Other Strangers: The Roots of Prejudice in Modern Germany, 28.
6 Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens: America, Islam, and the Future of Europe, 98.
7 Charles Taylor, “Religion and European Integration,” Religion in the New Europe, 14.  Ed. Krzysztof Michalski
8 Mark Kesselmann, European Politics in Transition, 326.
9 Mark Kesselmann, European Politics in Transition, 393.
11 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society””, 124. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
12 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”,” 124. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
13 “The Handbook of Bilingualism,” Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie
14 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”,” 116. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
15 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”,” 117. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
16 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”,” 117. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
17 Horst Siebert, The German Economy: Beyond the Social Market, 17.
18 Horst Siebert, The German Economy: Beyond the Social Market, 17.
19 (
20 Antje Harnisch, Fringe Voices: An Anthology of Minority Writing in the Federal Republic of Germany, 243.
21 Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens: America, Islam, and the Future of Europe, 145.
22 Zachary Shore’s Breeding Bin Ladens: America, Islam, and the Future of Europe, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, has received vast praise since its publication from scholars at Princeton and Harvard University. Overall, I find this book sensationalist and extreme, because Shore claims that Europe could experience millions of young Muslim men becoming terrorists due to the hatred they experience. I do not agree with this claim, but it is important to highlight the praise that Shore’s book has received.
23 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”,” 125. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
25 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”,” 118. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
26 Elcin Kürsat-Ahlers, ““The Turkish Minority in German Society”,” 118. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Ed. David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky.
27 Phillip Jenkins, God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, 92.
28 Phillip Jenkins, God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, 93.
29 Phillip Jenkins, God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, 12.
30 Phillip Jenkins, God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, 95.
31 Phillip Jenkins, God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, 95.
32 Şinasi Dikmen, “Who is A Turk,” 409. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes.
33 Şinasi Dikmen, “Who is A Turk,” 409. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes.
34 Şinasi Dikmen, “Who is A Turk,” 410-11. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes.
35 Şinasi Dikmen, “Who is A Turk,” 411. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes.
36 It is important to clarify the status of Die Zeit in Germany. It is widely considered the most respected and difficult newspapers, with an intended audience of college students and professors. Overall, one must have some college education in order to understand the “high-brow” liberal issues addressed. This fact is confirmed by a low circulation number of 480,000 according to
37 Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 449.
38 Feridun Zaimoglu, “Kanaki Speak,” 405. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes
39 Feridun Zaimoglu, “Kanaki Speak,” 406. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes
40 Feridun Zaimoglu, “Kanaki Speak,” 407. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes
41 Feridun Zaimoglu, “Kanaki Speak,” 405. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes
42 Feridun Zaimoglu, “Kanaki Speak,” 406. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes
43 Feridun Zaimoglu, “Kanaki Speak,” 406. Germany in Transit, Ed. Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes
44 Feridun Zaimoglu’s “Kanaki Speak,” published in 1995, is actually a collection of transnational youth testimonies. He lets German born Turks speak in their language, ‘Kanaki Speech,’ and claims to have created a “self-consistent, visible…and ‘authentic’ image in their own language.” (“Kanaki Speak,” Introduction)  Zaimoglu is a vastly respected Turkish author who critically comments on the current relationship between Turks and Germans. The introduction to “Kanaki Speak” is incredibly bleak when dealing with the identity of Turks in Germany, hence its placement in this thesis.
45 Estimates indicate that between 1991-2003, 14.2 million immigrants have moved to Germany. (
46 Mark Kesselman, European Politics in Transition, 392.
47 Tariq Modood, “Muslims and European Multiculturalism, 101. Religion in the New Europe, Ed. Krzysztof Michalski.
48 Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 449.
49 Rafael Seligmann, “Preventing Extremism,” 5. The Atlantic Times October 2007.
50 Rafael Seligmann, “Preventing Extremism,” 5. The Atlantic Times October 2007.
51 Richard Bernstein, “A Quiz for Would-Be Citizens Test Germans,” The New York Times. March 29, 2006.
52 Richard Bernstein, “A Quiz for Would-Be Citizens Test Germans,” The New York Times. March 29, 2006.
53 Richard Bernstein, “A Quiz for Would-Be Citizens Test Germans,” The New York Times. March 29, 2006.
54 Lyrics as included in: Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 429.
55 Yasemin Karakaşoğlu as quoted in: Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 450.
56 Arpel A. of Cartel as quoted in: Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 451.
57 Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 451.
58 Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie, The Handbook of Bilingualism.
59 Tevfik Baser as quoted in: Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 434.
60 Arpel A. of Cartel as quoted in: Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes, Germany in Transit, 411.

8.7. Das Kreuz mit dem Halbmond: Ethnische und religiöse Transformationen in europäischen Kontexten | The Crux of Islam in Europe: Ethnic and Religious Transformations in European Contexts

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 Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  17 Nr.

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