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Managing the Stigma: Islamophobia in German Schools

As Islamophobia is on the rise in German society it also reaches into public institutions like schools. Not only students are influenced by the bad image of Islam being reflected by many media reports and public debates, teaching staff are also not immune to the effect of hostile attitudes towards Islam and Muslims. However, the stigmatization of certain groups is especially problematic, given the hierarchical relationship between teachers and students. The following article presents some of the findings of an ongoing research project about the reactions of Muslim students to Islamophobia in German schools. It looks at Muslim religiosity as a kind of stigma in German society and evaluates the possible ways in which students who belong to the stigmatized group can react to and manage to cope with these attitudes. It also discusses the possible empowering role that religion can play for some of the students.

Managing the Stigma Islamophobia in German Schools
Muslims hoist the German and the Turkish flag at half-mast outside the Merkez Mosque in Duisburg, on January 9, 2015 to pay tribute to the victims of Charlie Hebdo. AFP PHOTO / DPA / ROLAND WEIHRAUCH
 

Islamophobia in Germany

Decades before Germany officially declared itself an immigration country and opened up its citizenship law in the year 1999 it had been an important destination for migrants from a variety of different countries and for various reasons of migration. One of the biggest immigration movements was that of the so called Gastarbeiter (guest workers), who had initially been invited to Germany from Turkey, Italy and many other countries to stay for a certain time during the prospering years of the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) and help rebuild the war-torn country’s economy. 


Together with the aspects of racism, hostility towards the religion also plays an important part in the exclusion of Muslims in Germany and Europe


Other people have come to Germany for example as refugees fleeing persecution or wars, the latest being the war in Syria. In 2015 alone 1.1 million refugees registered in Germany, about two thirds of whom came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.1

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