Posing in Playboy as libertion? (Op Ed)

First came Rima Fakih, the first Muslim to win the Miss USA title – and, with her participation in the pageant’s swimsuit competition, to push the public’s perceptions of Muslim women. Then came Sila Sahin, a Turkish German woman living in Germany, who recently posed for a cover of Playboy Magazine. The stereotype of the completely-covered-in-black Muslim woman has once again been challenged –this time with images of no dress at all.

Sahin explained her decision to model for Playboy thus, “I have always abided by what men say. As a result I developed an extreme desire for freedom … I want these photos to show young Turkish women it’s OK for you to live however you choose.”

Sahin’s connection between freedom and posing for a porn magazine is a difficult one to grasp. In leaving behind strict religious interpretations, which can at times be used to wield control over woman’s bodies, Sahin has moved into a more pernicious realm – one where woman are reduced to sexual objects and seen as nothing more than their physical selves. Sexual objectification is not exactly consonant with “freedom.”

German-Turkish Comedy Looks at the Lighter Side of Immigration

16 February 2011

“Almanya,” a Turkish-German film debuting at the Berlinale, has received rave reviews for its humorous and sensitive take on immigration and integration. The Local spoke with the sisters behind the movie about learning to live and laugh together.

Chancellor Angela Merkel may have recently declared that multiculturalism is officially dead in Germany, but Turkish-German sisters Yasemin and Nesrin Samdereli would disagree. “No. The patient isn’t dead yet. We’re right in the middle of it,” said Yasemin, who co-wrote the film with her sister, and is also the the director. “It takes time and effort.”

The duo, whose parents were among the many Turkish immigrants to arrive in post-war Germany as “guest workers,” used their memories of growing up as foreigners to show a more positive side of the story than has often been portrayed on film.

The plot centres on fictional Turkish guest worker number one-million-and-one, Hüseyin Yilmaz, who decides after retirement to take his family back to Turkey to rediscover their Anatolian roots. The children are transported back to their childhood memories of arriving in their new German home – a place full of blond giants who eat pork, walk rats on leashes, speak gibberish and worship a terrifying wooden figure nailed to a cross.

Reverse Turkish-German immigration in football

17 September 2010
Young football players with Turkish roots who have grown up in Germany and cut their teeth in the German football system are in much demand — particularly in Turkey. At the moment, 59 men who fit this description can be found playing in Turkey’s top league. And, every year, agents are bringing a fresh batch of talented young men — with Turkish passports and “Made in Germany” pedigrees — to its clubs.
Talent scouts focus their poaching efforts on German clubs with good reputations for devoting a lot of resources to training their younger players, such as Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund. They woo the young men — some of whom have only just turned 16 — away with promises of seeing regular playing time on a first-division Turkish team, higher pay and a chance to live in Turkey. As Vural puts it: “We’re bringing the boys back home.”
Still, it’s not always easy for the talented young players from Germany to adjust to living and playing in Turkey. In Germany, player Aygünes was always called “the Turk”; but, in Turkey, people call him the Almanci, the German, on account of his accent. In Germany, he would often get upset about all the rules and envy the energy and vitality of the Turks. But now, in bustling Istanbul, he occasionally misses the orderly, slow pace of life back in Germany.

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.

Leftists destroy German flags of Turkish-German football fans

Radical leftwing groups are currently on a crusade against German flags — displayed around the country in support of the German football team — to fight nationalism and stirring “Nazi-emotions” in the Germans. The irony of the battle is that most victims whose flags are destroyed or burnt are of Turkish or Arab background.
In Berlin, shop owner Ibrahim Bassal displayed a massive German flag reaching from the fifth floor nearly down to street level. Autonomists came to his shop and urged him to take it down, but he says: “He have been living and working in Germany for years, our kids are born here. What’s the problem? Of course we support Germany. What does that have to do with the Nazis?”

“Islam humiliates women”: Interview with Necla Kelek

The Turkish-German sociologist Necla Kelek (52) is one of the most renowned critics of Islam in Germany. Her new book warns of playing Islam down (“Himmelsreise. Mein Streit mit den Wächtern des Islam” – Journey to heaven: My dispute with the guards of Islam”).

In this interview, she explains her view of German society and its strong sense of responsibility after World War II. This otherwise very important trait of not criticising other cultures has led to a reluctancy to criticise Islam, even when it appears in a discriminatory form. According to Kelek, who is very critical of Islamic culture, no other culture discriminates against women the way Islam does, and this can be derived from the Quran. She calls for a historic interpretation of the Quran, absolute equality of men and women and for an education of imams at state universities rather than religious institutions.

Aygül Özkan becomes minister in Niedersachsen

Aygül Özkan becomes the new social minister in the German state of Niedersachsen, and thereby the first politician of Turkish background in such high office. More surprisingly, it is the conservative party CDU who lifted her into this office, considering their generally rigorous policies on immigration and integration.

Before coming to office this week, Özkan has stirred the first controversy among her conservative party colleagues and the public. While she called for banning headscarves from schools for reasons of secularism, she equally demanded to remove Christian crosses from classrooms, following the same spirit. This was too much innovation for the conservative camp, and Niedersachsen’s prime minister Wulff had to amend her statement.

More controversy was caused at the induction ceremony this week, when Özkan swore the oath on the constitution, adding the optional phrase “With the help of God”. After the ceremony she explained that she referred to the one and only God who is shared by the three monotheistic religions. But representatives of both Churches have jumped on this comment and declared that there are indeed vast differences between God and Allah and that the new minister should not have used the phrase.

In the current environment, Özkan could not have chosen a non-controversial option. Had she said “With the help of Allah”, one can only imagine the hysterical outcry of the public about Allah’s intrusion into German politics. If she had omitted the phrase, which would be most advisable option for all politicians in a truly secular state, the same religious representatives would have criticized. This critique once more reveals the bigotry of the German Churches and that it will be a long way until Turkish-German politicians are so common that they do not make it to the headlines simply for their background.

Conservative politician criticised for heavily anti-Islamic statements

A CDU party politician and member of the Hesse regional parliament, Hans-Jürgen Irmer, has revealed his deep-rooted anti-Islamic attitude. In an interview, he had claimed that Islam seeks to rule the world and that anyone who supports Turkey’s entry to the EU, as does the CDU’s new Turkish-German minister Aygül Özkan, contributed to the Islamisation of Germany. He furthermore said that Germany needed not more Muslims, but less.

Members of all parties have expressed their shock about the politician’s statements. Irmer finally apologized, saying that he had not wanted to discredit one religion on the whole. The SPD, Greens and Left Party do not believe his apology came voluntarily and find it incredible, as Irmer’s statements had shown a rather clear and strong supremacist attitude.

“The new minister will notice she is not with the Greens”: Interview with Cem Özdemir

In an interview, Cem Özdemir calls for an international Islam conference in Germany. The leader of the Green Party, who currently participates in a similar conference in Washington, calls for an intensive exchange of Europe with civil representatives from the Islamic world. On the topic of the new Turkish-German minister, Özdemir welcomes that more migrants are becoming involved in shaping German politics, but claims that the conservative CDU is far from taking over the Green Party’s strength of integration politics, as long as the party continues to have politicians like Roland Koch. Koch, the prime minister of the state of Hesse, has stood out with his campaign against dual citizenship and repeated quasi-racist remarks.

“Islam humiliates women”: Interview with Necla Kelek

The Turkish-German sociologist Necla Kelek (52) is one of the most renowned critics of Islam in Germany. Her new book warns of playing Islam down (“Himmelsreise. Mein Streit mit den Wächtern des Islam” – Journey to heaven: My dispute with the guards of Islam”).

In this interview, she explains her view of German society and its strong sense of responsibility after World War II. This otherwise very important trait of not criticizing other cultures has led to a reluctance to criticize Islam, even when it appears in a discriminatory form. According to Kelek, who is very critical of Islamic culture, no other culture discriminates against women the way Islam does, and this can be derived from the Quran. She calls for a historic interpretation of the Quran, absolute equality of men and women and for an education of imams at state universities rather than religious institutions.