Many of Germany’s 4 million Muslims feel forgotten and ill-inclined to vote in this month’s election, and even politicians acknowledge they have woken up too late to their ballot box potential.
In Duisburg in the industrial Ruhr region that is home to Germany’s biggest mosque, conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democrat (SPD) challenger Frank-Walter Steinmeier stir little interest, still less political passion. “I haven’t got a job, nor have my mates. Politicians don’t care,” said Ismet Akgul, 19, standing with friends outside an amusement arcade in the Marxloh suburb where about 60 percent of the population has immigrant, in most cases Turkish, roots. “Firms see a foreign name on an application form and chuck it in the bin,” he said. About one in five Germans has an immigrant background and the biggest single minority is Turkish. Of the roughly 2.8 million people with Turkish roots, only about 600,000 can vote, many failing to register or acquire citizenship. Only five lamakers out of 614 in the Bundestag lower house of parliament have Turkish origins. Some politicians argue that Turks, many with origins in the poorer, more religiously conservative areas of eastern Turkey, should make greater efforts to integrate and learn German. Madeline Chambers reports.