“Under the guise of religious tolerance, German society stood blithely by as some parts of its Muslim communities began turning into parallel societies.” Note also that the fact that young Muslims are the ones who are becoming more fiercely Islamic belies the common assumption that exposure to Western culture will mitigate jihadist tendencies.
Germany’s Muslim population is becoming more religious and more conservative. Islamic associations are fostering the trend, particularly through their work with the young — accelerating the drift towards a parallel Muslim society.
Surveys in the country have charted a significant increase in fundamentalist attitudes, particularly among younger Muslims. The experiences of Ekin DeligÃ¶z, a member of the German parliament representing the Green Party, underscore the potential dangers. Having called on Muslim women to remove their headscarves, DeligÃ¶z faced death threats and now receives police protection.
Disturbing as this trend may be, it cannot be pinned exclusively on Muslim groups. Under the guise of religious tolerance, German society stood blithely by as some parts of its Muslim communities began turning into parallel societies. For years, the country’s courts have been excusing Muslim girls from coed swimming lessons and class outings – citing the most absurd reasons for their rulings.
School is one of the few places where young Muslims come into contact with the non-Islamic environment. As a result, the teachers often see what is happening most clearly. Dietmar Pagel, principal of the Hector-Peterson High School in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, actively seeks dialog with his students. But with increasing frequency, he and his colleagues feel they are banging their heads against a brick wall. “Lots of our adolescents have a fundamentalist outlook on life,” he says. Many more girls are wearing headscarves, and almost all the Muslim students fasted during the major Islamic holidays, with catastrophic consequences for their performance at school. “The further we get into Ramadan, the more distracted the pupils become.”
He often feels let down by the politicians who discuss the problems of integration more passionately than ever, yet won’t appoint the additional social workers and teachers he needs. But Pagel refuses to give up. After the caricatures of Mohammed were published, he attempted to debate the controversy with his pupils. But the discussion was hopelessly lopsided. The children contributed a few bits of factual information, the principal relates, but then “the room fell silent when it came to the moral dimension, so the teachers simply held forth on their own ideas.”
He cannot get through to his pupils any more, Pagel complains. “If I say that headscarves are worn less in Turkey than here, they simply counter: ‘That’s why we came to Germany, so that we can openly practice our religion.'” And sometimes they simply remind him that – as a non-Muslim – he would be better off keeping such views to himself.
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