December 22, 2005


In Berlin, a Cultural Wall Sets Turks Apart: In a Muslim enclave, many find their futures -- and identities -- are torn between countries. (Jeffrey Fleishman, December 22, 2005, LA Times)

The Gummi Bear marked the cultural divide between Annette Spieler and the inquisitive little girl.

The principal at the elementary school in the Wrangel neighborhood here, Spieler offers candy as rewards for good grades. One Muslim student asked whether Gummi Bears were made with gelatin, an ingredient often derived from pigs. Spieler had never encountered such a question, but upon checking, she discovered that they were.

"The girl refused it," Spieler said, sitting in her office the other day as stragglers from recess echoed through the hallway. "It was an indication of how the neighborhood has changed. When I came here in 1991, I didn't see as many head scarves as I see now, or as many immigrant women wrapped up all over. But now I see it everywhere. The Islamic religious life is strengthening and it's coming into the schools."

The 12-square-block neighborhood in west Berlin has long been a place where new arrivals to the city flock, struggling to establish themselves and then to escape the incessant hum of courtyard factories and the rattle of machine shops. Bordered by a canal and train tracks, colored with graffiti and scented with wood smoke, the neighborhood today is a glimpse of the immigration pressures that Germany and the rest of Europe face.

It is a microcosm of how a nation's half-hearted efforts at integration have instead created a troubled immigrant population with its own languages, codes and ethos — a separate world. [...]

"I saw my first Turk in 1962," said Harald Zugehoer, who was born in Wrangel in 1949. He moved to a country house south of Berlin years ago, but kept his metal shop in the neighborhood. "People who say integration will never work are right. Berliners are half-spiritual and half-atheist. They can't handle this dogmatic kind of Islam."

It will work eventually, when Germans are integrated into the new Islamic society the Turks create.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2005 7:43 AM
It will work eventually, when Germans are integrated into the new Islamic society the Turks create.

Dream on. The birth rate of Muslims living in Germany is below replacement level, and dropping fast.

Posted by: Ralf Goergens at December 22, 2005 9:32 AM

No shortage of willing & needed immigrants though.

Posted by: oj at December 22, 2005 9:39 AM