Muslim refugees disenchanted with Islamic community in Germany

The large wave of new Muslim immigrants in Germany are showing themselves to be less religiously conservative than the pre-existing Muslim community as well as more concerned with integrating into mainstream German society, reports The Atlantic magazine (July 26). The more than one million refugees that have settled in Germany are from Muslim-majority countries and have stoked fears that the newcomers will not adjust to Western secular society. Turkish-Germans who migrated to the country in the last sixty years run most of the established Islamic institutions, but recent Muslim arrivals have had limited contact with this community. They claim that the mosques are too conservative and are mainly Turkish-speaking, with members that are overbearing and teachings that are irrelevant to their concerns about dealing with trauma and integrating into society. The article finds that the Muslim immigrants interviewed said the older Muslims in Germany focus too much on identity politics and self-victimization.

The sense of alienation from established Islam among the newcomers is not only directed at Turkish Muslim mosques but also at Arab ones that are considered too traditional, such as on women’s issues like wearing the head covering, and thus unable to help them make the transition to German society. The largest Islamic organization, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITB), which is directly linked to Turkey’s religious affairs department, has been less engaged in refugee response than the larger Christian bodies, largely because of fewer connections and different church-state status than the churches. The government pays for almost all refugee work through taxes to Protestant and Catholic churches. DITB is attempting to start a registered Muslim welfare agency organization that would have similar status to Catholic and Protestant churches but has not yet been successful.