A Turkish-German policewoman mediates between both worlds

Superintendent Gülay Köppen grew up in a Turkish home in Duisburg, Western Germany, and got socialised with both Turkish and German culture. In 2006, the local government created a position for a police officer to build confidence between the police headquarters and Muslim institutions.

Gülay Köppen has filled the position since, and enjoys being the contact person to the police for Muslim communities, which allows her to draw on her own experience of living in both worlds. And the job requires such experience: Köppen recounts many instances where members of one or the other culture would have given up. For example, when visiting a mosque for the first time, she cannot always come straight to the point, but may take a few more visits in order to create mutual trust – this makes her German colleagues nervous. Or, during a conversation between her and a Muslim male, he might not meet her eyes, something which is required as an expression of respect in the German context, but is in fact his way of showing respect to her in the Muslim context.