The New York Times (thanks to JE) has noticed that in Germany, Muslims’ self-imposed (yes, just as in France) lack of integration into mainstream German society has created a separate world — in which women are bought and sold, treated as possessions, and severely limited in fundamental human rights, due to the all-pervasive influence of Islam.
On the night of Feb. 7, 2005, Hatun Surucu, 23, was killed on her way to a bus stop in Berlin-Tempelhof by several shots to the head and upper body, fired at point-blank range. The investigation revealed that months before, she reported one of her brothers to the police for threatening her. Now three of her five brothers are on trial for murder. According to the prosecutor, the oldest of them (25) acquired the weapon, the middle brother (24) lured his sister to the scene of the crime and the youngest (18) shot her. The trial began on Sept. 21. Ayhan Surucu, the youngest brother, had confessed to the murder and claimed that he had done it without any help. According to Seyran Ates, a lawyer of Turkish descent, it is generally the youngest who are chosen by the family council to carry out such murders – or to claim responsibility for them. German juvenile law sets a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment for murder, and the offender has the prospect of being released after serving two-thirds of the sentence.
Hatun Surucu grew up in Berlin as the daughter of Turkish Kurds. When she finished eighth grade, her parents took her out of school. Shortly after that she was taken to Turkey and married to a cousin. Later she separated from her husband and returned to Berlin, pregnant. At age 17 she gave birth to a son, Can. She moved into a women’s shelter and completed the work for her middle-school certificate. By 2004 she had finished a vocational-training program to become an electrician. The young mother who had escaped her family’s constraints began to enjoy herself. She put on makeup, wore her hair unbound, went dancing and adorned herself with rings, necklaces and bracelets. Then, just days before she was to receive her journeyman’s diploma, her life was cut short.
Evidently, in the eyes of her brothers, Hatun Surucu’s capital crime was that, living in Germany, she had begun living like a German. In a statement to the Turkish newspaper Zaman, one brother noted that she had stopped wearing her head scarf, that she refused to go back to her family and that she had declared her intent to “seek out her own circle of friends.” It’s still unclear whether anyone ordered her murdered. Often in such cases it is the father of the family who decides about the punishment. But Seyran Ates has seen in her legal practice cases in which the mother has a leading role: mothers who were forced to marry forcing the same fate on their daughters. Necla Kelek, a Turkish-German author who has interviewed dozens of women on this topic, explained, “The mothers are looking for solidarity by demanding that their daughters submit to the same hardship and suffering.” By disobeying them, the daughter calls into question her mother’s life – her silent submission to the ritual of forced marriage. Meanwhile, the two elder brothers have papered their cell with pictures of their dead sister….
But tolerance of Muslim immigrants began to change in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Parallel to the declarations of “unconditional solidarity” with Americans by the German majority, rallies of another sort were taking place in NeukÃ¶lln and Kreuzberg. Bottle rockets were set off from building courtyards: a poor man’s fireworks, sporadic, sparse and joyful; two rockets here, three rockets there. Still, altogether, hundreds of rockets were shooting skyward in celebration of the attack, just as most Berliners were searching for words to express their horror. For many German residents in NeukÃ¶lln and Kreuzberg, Vogelsang recalled not long ago, that was the first time they stopped to wonder who their neighbors really were….
Before the murder of Hatun Surucu there were enough warnings to engage the Germans in a debate about the parallel society growing in their midst. There have been 49 known “honor crimes,” most involving female victims, during the past nine years – 16 in Berlin alone. Such crimes are reported in the “miscellaneous” column along with other family tragedies and given a five-line treatment. Indeed, it’s possible that the murder of Hatun Surucu never would have made the headlines at all but for another piece of news that stirred up the press. Just a few hundred yards from where Surucu was killed, at the Thomas Morus High School, three Muslim students soon openly declared their approval of the murder. Shortly before that, the same students had bullied a fellow pupil because her clothing was “not in keeping with the religious regulations.” Volker Steffens, the school’s director, decided to make the matter public in a letter to students, parents and teachers. More than anything else, it was the students’ open praise of the murder that made the crime against Hatun Surucu the talk of Berlin and soon of all Germany….
During 50 years of continuing immigration, the Germans, most of the time under conservative governments, deluded themselves that Germany was not a country of immigrants. Suddenly, the obvious could no longer be denied….
Politicians and religious scholars of all faiths are right in pointing out that there are many varieties of Islam, that Islamism and Islam should not be confused, that there is no line in the Koran that would justify murder. But the assertion that radical Islamic fundamentalism and Islam have nothing to do with each other is like asserting that there was no link between Stalinism and Communism. The fact is that disregard for women’s rights – especially the right to sexual self-determination – is an integral component of almost all Islamic societies, including those in the West. Unless this issue is solved, with a corresponding reform of Islam as practiced in the West, there will never be a successful acculturation. Islam needs something like an Enlightenment; and only by sticking hard to their own Enlightenment, with its separation of religion and state, can the Western democracies persuade their Muslim residents that human rights are universally valid. Perhaps this would lead to the reforms necessary for integration to succeed. “We Western Muslim women,” Seyran Ates says, “will set off the reform of traditional Islam, because we are its victims.”
I applaud Seyran Ates for her courage, for her struggle on behalf of human rights, and for having the honesty to declare that her struggle is against “traditional Islam,” instead of pretending, like so many other putative Islamic reformers, that traditional Islam is actually something else altogether.
Read it all.