What do the Turks think of Arabs

Neukölln : The Middle East conflict in the neighborhood

Sonnenallee is one of the city's most colorful streets, a bright oriental shopping mile. When the door to a café opens, the smell of sticky fruit tobacco pours out onto the street. Water pipes are bubbling inside, men are drinking tea, outside there is a smell of spicy food from the takeaways, women carrying bags of shopping home. The northern end of Sonnenallee has a nickname: Gaza Strip. Because almost all the shops here belong to Arabs. They come from Lebanon, Syria or North Africa. There are around 10,000 in the district, as opposed to around 40,000 people of Turkish origin.

The area is a prime example of a hot spot: around half of the residents are unemployed. At most schools you will look in vain for students named Lisa or Thomas. According to the district council, three out of four young people leave school with no or only a secondary school certificate. The social problems lead to a kind of legal vacuum: since 1990 the number of robberies and bodily harm has more than tripled. Again and again there are violent clashes between Arab and Turkish youth.

"Coexistence works smoothly here"

The Oktays * kiosk is located where the Arab Mile ends, near Police Station 54. Oktay is tall, Turkish and has brilliant white teeth. You see them often because he is always smiling. “Coexistence works smoothly here,” says the 31-year-old. So no problem? Oktay nods his head upwards - the Turkish body language for "no". And what about the criminal tribal structures, the "clans" that you hear about? “Yes,” he smiles even more politely, “there are criminal family ties.” It is better not to mess with them. Only a few weeks ago there was a bloodbath at the subway station, up front where there are now puddles on the side of the road. But in everyday life, as I said, “no problems”. Outside, a police patrol with flashing lights and a siren passes by. Differences? There are, says Oktay. “Arabs make a lot more children than Turks and the young people with them are more aggressive.” He doesn't know why that is either.

Karl-Marx-Straße, the second shopping area in the Kiez, runs parallel to Sonnenallee: This is where the German-Turkish Center, a member of the district authority's migration advisory board, is located. The club's boss, Adnan Gündogdu, sits at an expansive table with a large picture of Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish state, hanging over it. "There are definitely tensions between the ethnic groups in Neukölln," says Gündogdu. But anyone who wants to talk about the groups must first understand their origins - “their psychology”. The Arabs, for example, only had so "an incredible number of children" because they had not subconsciously overcome the war in the Middle East. “No wonder,” says Gündogdu, many of them only have asylum status and cannot go to work. That is why the young people are so aggressive. “Besides that, the Arabs are much less culturally rich than we are,” he adds.

Breeding ground for adolescent fighting behavior

The “Arab Cultural Institute” in the Rollbergviertel is committed to enriching culture. Nazar Mahmood is sitting in a wide hallway, the discussion room of the cultural institute. He is Iraqi, did his doctorate at Berlin's Humboldt University during the GDR era and founded this association eight years ago. For him, the problems between Turks and Arabs are homemade: "The hostile attitude of their parents that they bring with them from their home regions, which are rich in crisis, is reflected in school for some." The latent tensions are based on mutual prejudices: Palestinian Arabs like to throw the Turks proposed to collaborate with Israel while Iraqi and Syrian Arabs argue with the Turks over sovereignty over the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. Satellite television from home informs parents about the latest diplomatic disputes. And some children transfer these political tensions into their everyday lives. The Middle East conflict then lives on in the neighborhood. Mahmood explains: “Both groups have a similar mentality. They indulge in the same unconditional solidarity with their own compatriots and place great value on the honor of men. ”The perfect breeding ground for adolescent fighting in schoolyards.

A few streets further, in the back yard of an office building on Kottbusser Damm: A large hall with billiard tables and a tea kitchen has been converted into a leisure room. "We have no problems with Arabs here," says Kenan Bulus, a member of the Muradiye Mosque Association. “We have problems with unemployment and 100 percent migrants in schools.” Kenan Bulus finishes his game of chess in order to devote himself entirely to the problems in the neighborhood. The 42-year-old is upset, he feels forgotten by German society. “Where do all the humanists, the eco-Germans from Kreuzberg and Neukölln send their children to school?” It makes him angry that there is constant talk of immigrants' lack of integration. It is the Germans who are not integrating in Neukölln.

* Name changed by the editor

Now new: We give you Tagesspiegel Plus for free for 30 days! To home page