Muslim Women Behind Wall of Silence in Germany

Europeans are starting to question the notion of multiculturalism, which can lead to separate, parallel societies and a large Muslim underclass. Officials are now focusing on Muslim women, believing their empowerment can facilitate their communities’ integration into mainstream society. In Germany, many Muslim families are guided by the strict patriarchal traditions of rural Turkey. The men say those customs are necessary to protect their women from what they see as the evils of Western secular societies. But many of those Muslim women live behind invisible walls of silence. Tensions in a Multi-Ethnic Society “Turkish for Beginners” is a popular TV sitcom in Germany. A German psychotherapist who is a single mother of two teenagers falls in love with a policeman of Turkish descent. He also has a teenage son and daughter. They all move in together and form a patchwork family. In one scene, the veiled Turkish daughter tells her new blonde stepbrother that she wants her own plates, ones that haven’t been tainted by his German pork. The sitcom – written by a Turkish German – pokes fun at the cross-cultural family, but also raises more serious issues in a multi-ethnic society. It deals with religion and relations between men and women. Sylvia Poggioli reports.