Wearing the niqab in Germany: a DIY-experiment

What is it like to live as a woman who covers her face with a veil in Germany? How do people on the street react? Chamselassil Ayari, a reporter for Deutsche Welle’s Arab language service, wore a Muslim full-body covering garment for one day. Her experiment began on a sunny spring Saturday afternoon on Cologne’s busiest shopping street.

Ayari describes a scene in a café where she pauses and tries to drink a coffee:

“A woman, I put her at around 40 years old, smiles at me. Afterwards she tells us that she had never before seen a woman wearing a veil in a German cafe or restaurant. She says it was unusual, but she also welcomed it, saying it reflected Cologne’s multicultural makeup. ‘I was raised to accept others,’ she says.

The waitress more or less said the same thing. She thought that I was a tourist from one of the Gulf states. ‘At first I thought, ‘That looks strange and foreign!’ But I myself travel to foreign countries and really want to visit Iran or Iraq one day,’ she says. Tolerance, curiosity, being open-minded: that’s not just important when travelling. ‘Once I saw how hard it was for you to drink your coffee, I thought, ‘Oh, that is much too complicated,” she says.

Turks Snub German Integration Summit

CAIRO – An integration summit called by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to bring ethnic minorities into mainstream society was overshadowed by a boycott of Turks, the country’s largest minority, in protest at the recently approved integration law that they say discriminates against Muslims, reported Deutsche Welle on Friday, July 13. “The Turkish community is not taken seriously,” said Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD). Kolat said the Turks boycotted the one-day summit on Thursday, July 12, in protest at amendments to the immigration act approved by parliament earlier this week.

DW-TV Expands Arabic Programming

Deutsche Welle has announced that it intends to extend its Arabic television programming from three hours a day to eight hours effective April 2, 2007. To provide this extended service, DW has increased its Arabian editorial staff in Berlin from 10 journalists to 30. “In some countries,” DW Director Erik Bettermann said, “our programming allows people to get to know German and European perspectives on issues, while in other states it performs the role of supporting freedom of the press and freedom of speech and promoting human rights.” The Arabic program, broadcast over the Nilesat and Hotbird 6 satellites, will be available in more than 20 countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, reaching an audience of around 10 million viewers. The expanded programming will also include Arabic subtitled feature shows and documentaries.

Islam Summit Promises Diverse Representation of German Muslims

The Center for Turkish Studies in Essen sees an upcoming Islam Summit as an opportunity to improve the religion’s standing in Germany. Director Faruk Sen shared his thoughts with Deutsche Welle. The discussion on Islamic terrorism in the past several years has raised interest in Islam, said Faruk Sen, director of the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, but attention has been limited to security matters, even though the overwhelming majority of Germany’s 3.5 million Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism.