A Short Walk into Islam in Germany

One of the most impressive things about Berlin so far is its transportation system. You can get from one end of the city to the other by bus, subway, tram, or a combination of all three in a very short amount of time. Even though that's the case, we also have had to do a lot of walking on this trip.

Despite the volume of it, the walking isn't all bad. In some cases it really allows us to take in the sights of the city. On our first class outing we went to see a well integrated, and moderate, mosque in Berlin. As we approached the unassuming structure, I never would have noticed that it was a mosque had we not been walking to it for some time, or had Professor Christman not told us to see if we could find the mosque while walking to it. We would soon learn that this subtlety was intentional. The designers of the mosque wished to have a place for Islam in this neighborhood of Berlin, but not one that advertised its presence to the world.

This experience was much different than our other outing that day, a visit to the Berlin parliament to talk with people who are less than thrilled about the presence of Muslims in Germany. We took advantage of the wonderful public transport, but still ended up walking quite some ways to get there. At parliament we learned the views of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), a group calling for the closing of Germany's borders to refugees.

This group strongly expressed that there was no place for Islam in Germany, and that values Muslims hold are not compatibile with Germany's values. I couldn't help but wonder if the members of this city governance had seen or heard of the mosque we visited. The people we met there seemed to very easily navigate being Muslim in Germany. In our short time here no one has seen any other outward negative reactions to the presence of Muslims either.

Clearly there is more at play here than what's on the outside. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what other views are out there . . . right after I rest my feet from all of the walking.

The exterior of the Abgeordnetenhaus where the parliament for the state of Berlin meets.