Long-Awaited Response to Sarrazin’s Book Hits German Bookshelves: A Review

25 March 2011

Patrick Bahners, editor-in-chief of the arts and culture pages of the conservative FAZ, has published a book about the hysteric German debate around Islam. In this article, the reviewer of “Die Panikmacher” (“The Alarmists”) finds that Bahners shrewdly dismantles the arguments of prominent Islam critics like Thilo Sarrazin, Henryk M. Broder and Necla Kelek. Bahners sheds light on the strategies of Islam critics, who oftentimes argue from an absolutist point of view, rejecting any form of dialogue as well as the model of the welfare state. Despite missing a few amendments, such as a comparison with neighbouring countries like Austria, the reviewer welcomes the publication very much.

Patrick Bahners: “Die Panikmacher. Die deutsche Angst vor dem Islam”. C. H. Beck Verlag, München 2011.

Muslims seek change in their Hollywood story

After years of watching Muslims portrayed as terrorists in mainstream TV and movies, an advocacy group hopes to change that image by grooming a crop of aspiring Muslim screenwriters who can bring their stories – and perspective – to Hollywood.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council is hosting a series of workshops taught by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated veterans over the next month, an initiative that builds on the group’s outreach for a more representative picture of Muslim-Americans on the screen.

MPAC dubbed its effort the Hollywood Bureau, while Unity Productions Foundation recently started a similar project called Muslims on Screen and Television. Other nonprofit arts foundations, such as the Levantine Cultural Center and Film Independent, have joined forces by planning networking events for Muslim actors and training and mentoring young filmmakers.

“The idea is to really give Muslims an avenue to tell our stories. It’s as simple as that. There’s a curiosity about Islam and a curiosity about who Muslims are – and a lot of the fear that we’re seeing comes from only hearing one story or these constant negative stories,” said Deana Nassar, MPAC’s Hollywood liaison.

Islam at the centre of major arts festival in Germany

The Ruhr area, a former industrial region and this year’s European Culture Capital, will place Islam at the center of its arts festival the Ruhr-Triennale. Leaving headscarf and minaret debates aside, producer Decker seeks to explore religiosity and its link to movement and journey, which plays a particularly large role in Islam, and eventually to art. After focusing on Judaism last time, the forthcoming productions will explore Islamic myths and mysticism in theater, dance, music and prose performances. The festival will take place from August to October, and the 37 productions and 130 performances will be opened by the premiere of “Leila and Majun”, a Persian “Romeo and Juliet”.

Ethnic Turk wins political prominence in Germany

Cem Ozdemir tells public audiences how he was wrapped in a towel in a Turkish bath when a German woman walked in naked. So he dropped his towel “to show that I was well integrated at home in Germany.” The story is Ozdemir’s way of showing that even though he’s an ethnic Turk, he is comfortable with German ways. The message is all the more important now that he will be named co-leader of the influential Green Party this weekend. The appointment will make him the highest-ranking ethnic Turkish politician in a country that still tends to keep its Turkish minority at arm’s length.

On a continent that has struggled to produce leaders from minority communities even as it celebrates the triumph of Barack Obama in the United States, Ozdemir stands out as a rare politician who has broken racial barriers to win national prominence. Born to Turkish Muslim parents in Swabia, a culturally proud region in a heavily Roman Catholic state, Ozdemir, 42, often finds himself straining to prove that Germany’s 2.7 million ethnic Turks are invested in society. He also takes pains to quell Turkish suspicions that Germans are conspiring to keep them out of power. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the one who translates and explains how the others behave, think, dream,” he says.

Relations between Germans and Turks are generally civil, but not warm. Germans fret over the divide between their secular values and Islamic culture, while Turks struggle for access to quality schools and positions of power. Five Germans of Turkish origin serve in parliament but none has joined their party’s leadership or Cabinet. And while Turks have found success in independent businesses and the arts, they have little presence in the management of major German companies. Ozdemir’s new title will put him in a position to win a Cabinet post if the Greens make it into the ruling coalition in the next election.

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Islamic leaders welcome forum proposal

Islamic leaders are welcoming a proposal to include an international forum on promoting debate in the Muslim world at the Venice Biennale arts festival. Former president of the Venice Biennale, dedicated the theme of the 1977 Venice Biennale to dissent – in relation to Communist countries of the eastern bloc. He called for this contemporary similar proposal, concerning Islamic dissent. Ahmad Vincenzo, president of the Association of Muslim Intellectuals and lecturer at the Federico II University in Naples, stated I imagine that it would speak about dissent with regard to the regimes of many countries that have an Islamic majority. Not dissent towards Islam as a religion. Karima Moual, president of the Association of Young Moroccans also supported the proposal, as an initiative [that] would benefit if it made people from the Arab Islamic world participate […] I believe that the real problem in our countries is the absence of debate.

The Muslim creatively expresses

A creativity festival was held in Brussels last week, launched as an initiative by FEMYSO to call upon the creativity of young European Muslims. The Muslim community does not always have the opportunity to be heard, FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations) organized the event to encourage diversity and creativity in religious expression. Among the events, included artistic expressions in song, film, and recitation of the Quran – showing that in practicing their religion, Muslims in Brussels (and throughout Europe as well) maintain strong commitments towards the arts and creativity in their adherence.

Islamic Community Life in Berlin: An Introduction

Author: Riem Spielhaus

The media usually portrays Berliners of Muslim origin only in the context of their faith. However, Muslim Berliners are involved in the city’s cultural life, in the arts, in politics, and in education. They contribute to the city’s economy as entrepreneurs, professionals, and through civic activities. The Commissioner for Integration commissioned a study of the city’s religious civic associations, looking at Islamic communities in the context of their social, cultural, urban, and individual aspects.

Between pluralization and change of generations: Results of the research

The different forms of Muslim life in Berlin are both mirror and product of local requirements and frameworks for people with a Muslim background, including juridical aspects for residence, tenancy, and construction, but also communication between municipal institutions and Islamic associations. Nevertheless, Muslim life does not exist detached from the effects of the representation of Islam in the media on a local, national, and global level.

The publication of the study in German collects articles from several authors who engaged with specific topics, based on the survey of Berlin’s mosques and their own intensive, often qualitative, research. They tackled three areas of tension, where communities are searching, addressing, and defending their positions: 


  • Migration, Religion, and Representation
  • Diversity of religious practice
  • Presence in the city.

Click to download the summary of this report in German as well as graphical representations of its conclusions.