Clumsy Anti-Terror Investigation: Hilal Sezgin’s Novel about Muslims in Germany

1 October 2010

The new novel by Hilal Sezgin begins with a fictional terrorist attack on Germany – an attack that is not only deeply unsettling for the nation, but also for the book’s heroine. In a humorous and light-hearted tone, the German-Turkish writer and columnist tells of coexistence in a nervous society that suspects every devout Muslim of being a potential terrorist.

It is something one hardly dares to imagine: Islamic terrorists carry out an attack during the New Year period. They managed to poison the contents of numerous bottles of sparkling wine before they hit the supermarket shelves. Nine people die as a result of the poison, and countless more have to receive medical treatment. The entire country is plunged into a state of anxiety and fears that other foodstuffs may have been poisoned. Fortunately, this story is not real, but an invention by the writer and journalist Hilal Sezgin, an idea for a clever and entertaining novel on Germany’s relationship with Islam and the Muslim members of its society (“Mihriban pfeift auf Gott. Ein deutsch-türkischer Schelmenroman.” [Mihriban does not care about God. A German-Turkish picaresque novel]).

Representatives of Muslims, democratically elected? Thoughts on the composition of the German Islam Conference

In an article for Qantara.de, Hilal Sezgin addresses the peculiar and questionable composition of the German Islam Conference. First, she criticizes the invention of “secular Muslim” that are so welcome at the Conference: either they are in favor of separating church and state, which applies to roughly all German Muslims, or they are not religious, which is fair enough, but then they do not need to be essentialized as Muslims and be invited to form part of the Islam Conference.

Second, Sezgin shrewdly remarks that no place in the Conference is designed for hosting a Muslim politician – half of the members are non-Muslim politicians, the other half are Muslim representatives, no overlap intended. “The German Germans please take a seat on the political side. The rest, the ones with the funny names, kindly be seated on the Muslim bench”, she writes.

In conclusion, Sezgin attests that the participation policy has “deeply paternalistic, even un-democratic” traits and that the Conference is unlikely to result in true dialogue.