Saturday. For some it’s a relaxing day. It is that first day of the so awaited weekend. For me, on the other hand, it’s the official supermarket day. On my way back home carrying three shopping bags, a lady with a baby stroller accidentally bumps into me and apologizes in a foreign language I don’t understand. My train departs, she decides to sit next to me and I start observing the people around me in my wagon. For the first time in a very long time, I take my earphones off and start listening to others’ conversations.
Ironically, none of the people sitting next to me was speaking German. Some languages I could take a guess, but definitely, not German. The Brazilian on the train was listening to Italian, Turkish, English and Arab (I later on asked the couple out of curiosity). 4 different languages. 4 different cultures. 1 wagon.
I then started thinking about possible reasons why they all came to Germany. How did everyone stop in Nuremberg?
On April, inner Minister Thomas de Maizière published a statement on “Leitkultur”. There, he discussed what constitutes being German. This statement was entitled “We are not Burqa”. Polemic as it sounds, it really is. Germany is indeed, not only Burqa, but also the Wheel of Dharma, the Cross, the Om and the Star of David. Undeniably, it has clearly become a multicultural country. This is our reality now.
Official data from BPB shows that 30,15% of German society is composed by Roman-Catholics and 29,13 % by Evangelical. Clearly, a Christian majoritarian society. Nevertheless, on paper, Germany is a secular State and this principle is defended by the country’s constitution in Article 4 (Freedom of Religion). However, how secular is it to forbid stores to open on Sundays and Holidays because of “Ruhetag?“ What if the store’s owner is not religious? What role does the freedom of religion actually speak in “sacred days?” These are just examples of multicultural and multi religious conflicts that the country will have to deal with from this moment on.
On the other hand, significant advances have been made, such as the passing of the bill that allows gay marriage. But is that enough? Will a legal basis change the behaviors of Germany when it comes to change?
Despite advances when it comes to the LGBT community, official numbers show that hate crimes against the homosexuals in the country have increased by 27% in the past year. Moreover, the rise of Right-Wing national parties and their performance in this year’s Bundestag elections is also a motive to scare defenders of a multicultural Germany.
Fortunately, when analyzing the bigger picture, one can easily recognize how the scenario is changing. Tolerance is being openly defended by leaders of the Catholic Church and by important leaders of the European Union as well. It is therefore important to recognize how multiculturalism has been taking over our globalized world, and how we can profit from it.
Here in Germany, Integration has to be slowly built by every party involved. This is the key to a modern, cosmopolitan and culturally rich society. The same is valid for tolerance. Overcoming differences is thus necessary to build a stronger and peaceful way of life. And believe me when I say that Germany is good at overcoming.
By Marina Guimarães
This article first appeared in our last print edition “WS 17/18”