Western Europe’s Muslim community is young. The majority arrived in Germany and France in the late 1960s as part of the various Guest Worker programmes instituted to rebuild and boost economies in the aftermath of the Second World War. In Germany, the Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle) meant that the initial supply of unskilled and semi-skilled workers from Italy, Spain and Greece was not enough and so Turks and North African Muslims were recruited in mass numbers. Initially, contracts were offered to workers of limited duration but by the time a moratorium was placed on the programme in 1973 the levels of illegal migration, overstayed visas and collapsed and corrupt political systems in the sending countries meant that migrants were there to stay. Turks, more than any other group, overwelmingly stayed in Germany, later reuniting with their families there. By 1980, out of 4.4 million foreign workers in Germany, 1.5 million were Turkish. Thus was Germany’s Muslim community born.
The biggest failure of the Guest worker programme was that it never foresaw migrant workers not returning to their country of origin. During the entire period of recruitment in Germany, chain migration was customary. Thus, it was not uncommon for whole villages from the most underdeveloped and conservative parts of central and eastern Anatolia to be recruited en-masse to work in one factory in Germany. A 1971 study found that two-thirds of Turks awaiting migration to Germany had at least one friend or family member there, while a further survey found that 77% of Turkish emigrants had between one and seven relatives already working in Germany. Once in Europe, Turkish workers moved between nations and regions to work and live with members of their own kinship group and villages. In Berlin, for example, by 1974 there were 140 families from Urfa, 100 families from Erzincan, 250 Kurdish families from Siirt and 140 families from the Samsun region all clustered together.
Yücel, a Turkish anthropologist who studied the social organisation of Turks in the Stuttgart area referred to the settling of Turks in Germany as a form of “colonisation”. The term is used deliberately to denote that Turks were not shunned by German society so much as they never wished to engage with it. He refers to numerous instances where Turkish workers displayed a highly negative attitude towards native Germans who were seen as immoral, and cases of self-segregation in workplaces owned by Turks.
This was the beginning of self-segregation of the Muslim community in Germany. A 1968 survey of Turks found that they had the poorest language skills of all migrants in the country. Of those who had spent an average of 2.4 years in Germany, only 16% claimed to understand the language. When asked why did they not learn German, most felt it would not lead to better job prospects so they did not attempt the language even when free classes were on offer. Even today, many second-generation Turkish women speak no German. What this meant is that Turks became inward looking, relying upon their own kin and social network for employment and social contact. Importantly, because of the rules of honour and kinship observed in peasant village life, Turks who had migrated to Germany legally were responsible for finding work for family and village members who later arrived illegally. From the outset then, the Turkish community rejected the German State and imposed a form of peasant village life upon their transplanted communities within Europe’s great metropolises.
While it is fashionable to think of Europe’s Muslims as being pushed into ghettos in the least desirable parts of town, it is simply not the case as the upward mobility of Yugoslav, Iberian and Italian guest workers with comparable socio-economic backgrounds has proven. The imported village social structure and strength of kinship and honour bound all Turks together. It placed little prestige upon economic success and less still on relationships with people outside of the Turkish community. By leaving the imposed village social structure, either in search of individual advancement in the form of economic success or integration, a Turk was cast out from his own people and liable to find himself the victim of violent retribution for doing so. In short, their social structure kept them poor, ill-educated and resistant to change.
Initially, there was no sense of being “Turkish in Germany”. In this claustrophobic system, loyalty was given to the home village (in Turkey) and the social network among Turks (in Germany). This changed in 1980 with the creation of the Islamic Federation. From then, migrants, under the direction of their religious leaders, grew to see themselves as Turkish, with the defining features of that nationality being the primacy of Islam and the Turkish language. Since this time, the hub of community identity has shifted from the Turkish clubhouse to the Mosque. It has had a profound effect on the Muslim community in Germany.
Now comes the uncomfortable part, the part that links the German case to the events in Paris this week. First, to return to Grant Wiggins’s post, those who carried out these attacks in Paris were not isolated loners rejected by society. The truth is harder for many to accept. These terrorists are the product of their own, self-segregated Muslim communities here in Europe. They are the product of a religion that has never “arrived” in Europe, one that has never been challenged to do so because of European commitments to multiculturalism and unblinking acceptance of any attitude or behaviour associated with religious belief. We live in an era where it has become unacceptable to denounce acts carried out in the name of religion and instead find any means to seperate the act from the faith.
This leads to a second uncomfortable truth, despite what European leaders, newspapers and many upset Muslim spokespeople may say: yes, these were Muslim terrorists. What they did, they did in the name of their religion. Too often after an Islamic terrorist attack we see in the inevitable flood of comments in print and social media that these terrorists ‘do not share my beliefs’, but that needs further analysis. On Wednesday, when three murderers entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, it is reported that they shouted “Allah is great” before shooting and “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” afterwards. They also told a surviving female victim to wear a head shawl from now on. Clearly, they define themselves as Muslim. Those who argue that they are not do so on the basis that murder is a sin against the Prophet Muhammad in Islam. But the difficulty is, somewhere along the way, someone clearly has been telling young Muslim men, brought up in their insular communities, that murder is perfectly justifiable.
I have spent the last three years conducting research in one such neighbourhood in Ulm, Germany. After exhaustive interviews with local “at-risk” Muslim youths, social workers and teachers, among others, it is clear that in these communities it is acceptable, in 2015, after several generations in Germany, to commit an act of violence against a woman for a perceived insult against her husband, brother or family patriarch. In many cases, murder or “honour-killing” is an acceptable form of punishment for infidelity. Rather shockingly, in a recent study at the University of Applied Sciences in Ravensburg, 68 Muslim students at a rural school (55 of Turkish origin) were asked, among other things, about their feelings on the then recent “honour-killing” of Hatun Sürücü. The answers were devastating. One youth said he did not believe in “honour-killing” but if his sister were to date a German he would resort to violence if he had to break them up. A girl spoke about how her uncle killed his wife for an alleged infidelity, shooting her five times in the head and once in the heart. The end result was a general consensus that “honour-killing” was “a little OK”.
It is clear then that to kill is an acceptable part of Islam when it is deemed that someone has broken a certain code of the religion. It is also clear that this is understood from a very young age. Undoubtedly, this “education” is primarily the work of the individual family but, as pointed out above, in German and European Muslim communities, there is not really such a thing as the individual, be it the family or the person. This is again made clear by the rising number of young Muslim girls turning to variations of the Muslim head-shawl. Certainly, not all girls who wear the shawl are equally devout but the point is, since Turkishness in Germany became synonymous with Islam and Turkish Muslims have become the spokespeople for Germany’s Muslims, the head-shawl has become a powerful symbol of self-segregation from Society. The true nature of religious instruction lies then with the mosque and the Imam.
The list of so-called “hate-preachers” that have radicalised so many of Germany’s young Muslim men is too long to recount here. The one that is most personally pertinent is that of the ironically-named “Multikulturhaus” in Neu-Ulm. Not long before the 9/11 attacks in New York, Mohamed Atta spent a week there – presumably not speaking about love and peace. And this is another uncomfortable truth. The radicalisation of young Muslim men is done by Muslim clerics in Mosques right here in Germany. Leaders and newspapers and other Muslims may lay blame at the feet of Middle Eastern organised terror groups, but these groups did not create fundamentalists; they simply recruited them.
And now for our final uncomfortable truth. It is too often said in the aftermath of these atrocities that this is a minority of Muslims. That is technically correct. A minority of Muslims commit acts of extreme violence in the name of their religion. The problem is that if these young men are being radicalised in Mosques and in insular communities here in Germany, what number within those communities support their ideals if not their actions? That is a truly frightening question that European leaders have no stomach to ask. Even if they did, Germany’s Muslim communities have long been anti-State and so will offer up few answers. A perfect example of this “soft” radicalisation came from one of Ireland’s leading Islamic scholars the day after the attack. In a report by the Irish Independent, Dr. Ali Selim warned the Irish press that if they reproduced a controversial Charlie Hebdo image, he would take any legal options possible to sue them. What he is saying is that he does not believe in freedom of speech and he does not believe in the freedom of the press. He explicitly links this to his religion. While he does not condone the attacks in Paris, it is a clear message to Irish Muslims, in this sensitive time: Do not give an inch, do not become Western – you are Muslim. Dr. Selim, while he undoubtedly would not kill for the offence caused, advocates the same rejection of Western values as these killers did.
The final point then is that at this time, Islam is not compatible with Western society because it has never “arrived” in Europe. It is not compatible because it has been lifted from the most conservative peasant villages of the Islamic world and embedded, along with the norms of these regions, into the insular communities they have built here in Europe. Islam has not been tamed by Reformations or by the Enlightenment as Europe’s Christian religions have been. As such, it remains a world-view and not just a religion. Islam, as we are reminded with the growth of young girls wearing head shawls, dictates one’s actions at the cost of the suppression of the individual in Europe’s Muslim communities. Thus, to put it bluntly, Islam is, in its very nature, extreme. Until this reality is addressed within the Muslim community itself and by European leaders and media, acts of barbarity by Muslim terrorists will continue with the sincere belief, and with much silent support, that such actions are justified.
To return to Grant Wiggins, he is correct in stating that schools will be the place where future terrorists can be reclaimed. But it will be hard work, requiring clarity and strength from school leaders and teachers. Schools that wish to reclaim Europe’s Muslim youth need to build their community upon secular values that are shared by all stakeholders. These need to be embedded into and form the bedrock of all teaching and learning in schools and they must be defended with conviction. This needs to be accompanied by an Inquiry approach to learning that demands critical thinking, teamwork, interaction with organs of State and the challenging of beliefs with fact and reason. In short, Germany and Europe is in need of a second Enlightenment, one that takes place in our schools and one that is robust enough to fight against established social networks and self-serving religious and political figures to pull Muslim youth out of their parents’ self-imposed segregation.
 Rex, J. 1987, 3
 Akgündüz, A. 2008, 86
 Gitmez, A. and Wilpert, C. 1987, 95
 Yücel, A.E. 1987, 117
 Paine, S. 1974, 98