“Integration”, German-Style

Posted by John Rosenthal

Yesterday’s edition (16 May) of the Süddeutsche Zeitung includes a glowing article on a German program to "promote integration" by offering state-sponsored lessons in Islam for "Muslims". The Süddeutsche means by this "Muslim" schoolchildren – whose religious faith is apparently supposed to be genetically encoded even before they have gone to school to learn about it. The first teacher to have been trained in Germany to dispense these Islam lessons is Erkan Erdemir. On Erdemir, the Suddeutsche writes:

Erdemir came to Germany when he was five years old. His father was a teacher in Turkey and he said to his son back then: Assimilate, but don’t forget where you came from: We are Muslims. Now Erdemir wants to teach exactly the same lesson to his students, and he does so using a saying of the Prophet, who demanded that one integrate in the country where one lives, but without denying one’s religion.


The article does not specify if Erdemir plans to have a class devoted to apostasy in case some students might not entirely agree with the injunction.


The Suddeutsche also spoke with Stefanie Nur Alhayari: a German convert to Islam who is presently in training to become an "Islam-Teacher" in the German schools. The article notes that she speaks "barely any Turkish [the here presumptive native tongue of most of the parents] and just a little Arabic". But she is evidently not short of relevant pedagogical ideas:

She would have made a "project" out of the controversy over the Muhammad-cartoons, which were also published in German papers and which showed the Prophet with a lit fuse in his turban. She would have turned to the press, asked which papers brought out the cartoons and disseminated them. In this way, the students could have dealt with the heated topic in an objective manner and transformed their rage, for instance, into video clips.


Maybe video clips of them burning the papers? This would no doubt have been a relatively healthier outlet for their "rage" – supposing that the students had been properly taught to be enraged – than that chosen, for example, by Amir Cheema: the Pakistani man whose recent death in a German prison is a current source of anger in the Muslim world. When Cheema found out the identity of one of the papers that had published the cartoons, he went to its offices in Berlin allegedly looking to kill the editor.


The Süddeutsche, incidentally, does not itself figure among the "guilty" papers. Note that the syntax of its article here (which I have preserved from the German) makes it seem as if all twelve of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons depict the prophet Muhammad with a lit fuse in his turban, rather than just the one cartoon that famously does.


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