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In conversation: Dr Karen Horn (left) and Necla Kelek 

Daniel Johnson: Thilo Sarrazin, who was then a member of the board of Deutsche Bundesbank, recently published a book entitled Germany Abolishes Itself. This book has added fire to the already heated debate in Germany about the failed integration of immigrants with a Muslim background. What, if anything, do you think Britain could learn from the way Germany discusses integration?

Necla Kelek: The German debate didn't begin with Sarrazin's book. Until recently, however, the debate here was dominated by the point of view of the immigrants themselves as well as various leftist opinion-leaders in this country, claiming that Germany must do more to help the immigrants. We saw a lot of this in the schools, where the widely-held view was that all education policy must aim at supporting and confirming the cultural background of immigrant families. Approximately five years ago, however, a second position began to be voiced by another group of people, to which I belong. We argue that integration is not about Germany having to go through great pains to make immigrants feel at ease here with their traditions. Integration should instead take place on the grounds of the opportunities granted by a treasure that Germans share with the immigrants: our constitution, our democracy, the gift of freedom. By insisting on this, we have turned the debate round. It was high time. We missed so many chances. We have already lost at least three generations since 1961, the moment when Germany began to invite Turkish Gastarbeiter [guest workers]. So many of these people have since been unable to find their place in a free, democratic society. But this is what we should have helped them with, instead of pumping millions into social welfare for immigrants. Money doesn't help to broaden culture and develop identity. Instead, we must challenge immigrants with concrete demands, obliging them to endorse and support the values of our society. Sarrazin argues exactly along these lines, and I think it is very helpful to have yet another source making this point in the public debate. 

Karen Horn: One cannot overstate the importance of having this relatively new, more self-confident voice in the debate. It stands for a point of view that is not chauvinistic or exclusive in any way, but is acutely aware of the values of Western civilisation that we should wish to protect. Necla Kelek has enormously contributed to this new focus. She has fostered the debate on exactly what these values consist of, how we can safeguard them, and where there may be problems. Answering your question, Daniel, I am not sure Germany should pretend it has anything to teach. But should there be something worthy of an "example" in this field, it would be, I think, this new focus on the values of a free, democratic society.

DJ: For historical reasons, Germans value liberty particularly highly. We are holding this discussion in what was until 20 years ago part of East Berlin. Nazi and communist totalitarianism held people in this country hostage for too long. Necla, do you fear that Muslim citizens, particularly women, are not fully able to enjoy the liberties supposedly guaranteed by the free and democratic German constitution?

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May 21st, 2013
8:05 PM
I don't find it very productive to speak of "the Muslims" - what about the successful and well-integrated Pakistanis and Iranians of Germany, who sometimes identify themselves by nationality, sometimes by religion, and sometimes both? That said, she raises valid points that the Muslim community shouldn't be so quick to dismiss, because it's very true that Muslim parents are much more imposing than non-Muslim parents, and that their clasp over children extends far beyond childhood in ways that are neither democratic nor acceptable by Western standards. Whether we should impose Western standards on every facet of Muslim life in Europe? No - look at Europeans abroad; they (variably) respect but do not adopt the values of their non-Western hosts, and to expect more would be unreasonable. Whether the government should interfere where human rights are violated, as in the case of forced marriages? Yes. I personally wouldn't insist that religious communities adopt secularism if they ensured the safety and well-being, at the very least, of non-religious individuals. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case with Islam; where you aren't killed for apostasy, your family abandons you - or worse.

March 5th, 2011
2:03 PM
Although Mrs Necla Kelek's word could land as a harsh, she makes sense. I am a Turk and Muslim and religion has a role to empower the individual. The current version where individual empowerment is lost , where the system takes control is may be incorrectly but for the right reasons displayed as similar to socialism. Whats happening nowadays in many Middle Eastern countries is that individuals are taking power. Its exciting and inspiring. No system on its own can overcome the power of its members. It doesnt work. Communism doesnt work, religious governments also dont work. The gap between developed and developing world will continue to narrow and a system based on individuals rights will arise. Its time for democracy and freedom for every person, be it Muslim, Christian or non believer. We will live in harmony.

February 23rd, 2011
12:02 PM
It's interesting to read the comments by 'Turkish Voice' and Yalcin. I assume that they are Muslim and (possibly also) Turkish. Necla Kelek clearly is a reasoned and reasonable woman, well versed in German, Turkish and specifically Muslim culture. Yet the two Muslim commentators call her 'rude' and 'ignorant', hateful of her own (i.e. the Muslim part) 'people, religion, culture and history' - ending by claiming she's not a Turk or a Muslim in 'the true sense'. How very illuminating. The knee-jerk hostility, the dismissal of any and all reasonable arguments, the dogmatism and finally the assertion that she's not a 'real' Muslim anyway - all beutifully confirms Kelek's argument about what's wrong with the Muslim mindset. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

February 14th, 2011
1:02 PM
"Germany's historical trauma"??? HAH, germans dont give a damn his historical "trauma"

February 9th, 2011
7:02 AM
The first two commentators have proven Ms. Kelek right about her views.

January 28th, 2011
6:01 AM
All remarks pointed out by Kelek about Islam and Turkey are absolutely senseless and incorrect. She is either fully ignorant or biased concerning Muslims and Turkish culture and society. Her consultation, suggestions, view,etc about Turkish state, population, religion should be avoided by all costs because she is everything but for sure not Turkish and Muslim in true sense.

Turkish voice
January 27th, 2011
5:01 PM
I am quite disappointed about N Kele's remarks concerning Turkey and Islam. It seems that she has no idea at all what Islam and Turkish culture are made of. All of her words, view, and conclusions completely contradicts with Turkish society, government, policy, and etc. Her hate against her own people, religion, culture, history is rather thought-provoking and biased. Therefore, she cannot act as a refree, advisor, authority and consultant on any issue regarding Turkey and Islam. Poor, ignorant, rude woman, she is everything but for sure she represents neither a Turk nor a Muslim.

Tom Phillips
January 6th, 2011
10:01 PM
Anonymous of 8.12 on 31/12/2010( whom I take to be a German from his use of English) has even more to complain of than he thinks :the correct quotation about the purpse of NATO is " to keep the Russians out , the Americans in and the Germans down!"

December 31st, 2010
8:12 PM
In an US-anouncement we have seen following the German flag: Germany - Languages: German, Turkish! As you see this example shows the influence of both US and British interests, which want to have Turkey inside the European Communtiy, as well as the EU-leadership and most of the member countries! Guess: the want to have Turkey inside the EU for weaking Germany, as the history shows in NATO-development: Lord Ismay, British-first Secretary General inside stated the NATO was founded to have the Russians out and the Germans in!

December 31st, 2010
6:12 PM
A question: isnt Karen Horn correspondent of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine" at Moscow, and if, why does she support Necla Kelek and not the corres= pondent of that newspaper stationed at Ankara or Istanbul?

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