How do cultures shape our society?




PARTIAL DOCUMENT:



The coexistence of cultures in a global society
Risks, dangers, perspectives
An encouragement





Globalization and cultural conflict



Globalization not only has economic, it also has political and cultural consequences of far-reaching importance. In all parts of the world, established traditions are being called into question by the increasing penetration of goods, cultural models and models of lifestyle. It is not uncommon for them to spread at a rapid pace and in an aggressive manner, favored by the economic and technical superiority of the strongest industrial nations, so that the familiar identities of social groups are called into question and their accustomed way of life is suddenly denied recognition.

To the extent that economic globalization has so far been able to evade political control and responsibility, it has intensified internal divisions in societies in many parts of the world. A large part of the people is denied participation in economic progress and social advancement. To the extent that they cannot see a realistic hope of an improvement in their situation, they are increasingly susceptible to the promises of a religiously based politics of cultural identity, which find a way out in the return to older, closed forms of religious and culturally determined forms of social and public life Promise misery and exclusion. Religious-cultural conflicts that do not arise in the religious forms of life themselves, but for political and economic reasons, are therefore becoming explosive all over the world. At the same time we observe that people who are really permeated by the spirit of their religion often make a special effort to communicate with people from other religions and cultures.

In Europe, globalization has accelerated the development of the formation of multicultural societies across the continent since the dissolution

The colonial empires began to emerge after the Second World War. In our neighboring countries and in our own society, people of different religions and cultures are increasingly living together, sharing the same working and living environments and the same political community. For example, a total of 7 million Muslims live in Europe, 2.7 of them in the Federal Republic of Germany alone. Several factors, such as the elimination of the great ideological debates after the end of the East-West conflict, the greater focus on cultural differences in all parts of the world, the renaissance of religion in politics and its permanent establishment as minorities in the majority societies have contributed to this that the will for cultural self-assertion has grown in the minority groups, that the question of the relationship between majority culture and minority culture, of political community and cultural identity occupies an important place on the political agenda. This tendency is likely to intensify in the time ahead.

All over the world and also in our own worlds, conflicts are fomented and wars are instigated in the name of religious and cultural self-assertion. Representatives of minority cultures lay claim to recognition in the name of religion and culture, which they are really or allegedly denied by majority cultures, in the collapsing Soviet Union, in broken Yugoslavia no less than in parts of Asia and Africa, but also on the fringes and even in Heart of Europe. Fundamentalist minorities in the majority cultures themselves respond with an attempt to mobilize the majority culture against the minority groups, and spirals of hostility are set in motion. The other, which has remained alien or is made alien again, as in the crumbling Yugoslavia, becomes the enemy whose caricature must serve to reassure itself of its own social and cultural identity with renewed certainty. The politics of recognition by means of a politics of hostility becomes the strategy of power-obsessed leadership groups from religion and politics who can hope for allegiance in the political, economic and social crises of modernization in a confusing, complex world.

These experiences and the supposed end of the ideological age, which many expected after the East-West antagonism, gives rise to new ideologies that are as seductive as they are dangerous. So it seems

The increasingly widespread ideology of the "clash of civilizations" to fill the vacuum of orientation in a simple, and in the eyes of many in the face of new kinds of conflicts in the world, in a convincing way that arose after the disappearance of the communist enemy image on the public stage real conflicts that broke out in our societies and between states in the 80s and 90s in new ways and with new energies, as an expression of the alleged incompatibility of different religions and cultures Neighborhood and conflicts flaming in distant parts of the world as manifestations of a single new type of basic conflict and thus seems to bring order back into a confusing world. In groups and parties, editorial offices and seminars as well as political advisory and management staff, the ideology begins with the inevitable a clash of civilizations.

In a world in which today people of different religions and cultures live next to each other as neighbors in almost all societies, and in which modern communication and transport technologies have turned societies into neighbors that used to take little notice of each other and cooperation within our societies and between them great dangers when such an ideology becomes embedded in the thoughts and actions of many people. Through the way in which it interprets actual conflicts, it influences the view of other cultures and religions in the eyes of many people and the orientation and habits in dealing with such conflicts. In the neighborhood, in society as a whole and in big politics, this fatalistic interpretation of cultural differences has effects that can lastingly gain importance and even create the causes for the hostility of representatives of different religions and cultures, which they then do again to justify their bleak interpretation of the world.

It makes a huge difference whether groups or leaderships invoke religious and cultural differences in their conflicts because they hope that they will benefit them in order to assert their interests, or whether religions and cultures impose themselves on conflicts because they are fundamentally based to come to an understanding with others about what has to be regulated together is fundamentally absent.

The differences in the ways of life and cults, rituals and forms of piety that exist between the great religions of the world are manifold and visible at first glance. At a second glance, however, extensive internal differentiations can be observed in all cultures and religions of the world in today's world, so that it would be a fatal error to regard the most spectacular recognizable differences as the real essence of the difference. In addition, it is completely different for people of different cultures and religions to live together, whether they differ in their way of life, cult and forms of piety or with regard to the basic social and political values ​​from which the models of social and political coexistence arise.

Neither the study of the religions and cultures of this world nor their inner development indicates that the enmity between them in their own foundations is preprogrammed forever. Serious efforts to reach an understanding between representatives of all religions in the world, Islam and Buddhism, Hinduism and the Chinese religions, the Japanese and African religions, Christianity and Judaism, have always led to an understanding of basic values ​​that ensure peaceful coexistence for all Enable respect and active cooperation. This was finally demonstrated in the process of drafting and in the content of the final document "Declaration on the Global Ethic" of the World Conference of Religions in Chicago in 1994.

And yet we not only experience numerous and often bloody conflicts between groups and people that refer to differences in religion and culture. It is more and more common that they themselves, those who could mediate or those who report on it, use the culture war ideology as an explanation, or as a justification. Resignation or isolation, sometimes aggressive expectation of coming conflicts, which reduces the willingness to come to an understanding from the outset, are spreading. What are the causes and what can we do? It is about securing the foundations of a democratic community and building the prerequisites for a democratic world society, since it alone will be able to satisfy the basic needs of the people and to master the global challenges we are confronted with today

are. The ability of religion and cultures to communicate is one of their most important conditions.

It is important to recognize the real causes of the spread of the culture war ideology and to clarify the question of the meaning of religious and cultural differences in today's world in order to be able to make an effective and sustainable contribution to lasting understanding between them.

This results in social, cultural and political tasks within our societies and between the societies of the world.

The political instrumentalization of cultural differences



Globalization has also increased contacts between people of different religious and cultural origins. Immigration and refugee flows lead to an increase in the cultural diversity within many societies. Worldwide trade gives rise to an increase in economic settlements and contacts in other cultures, and relationships between many societies have become more open and direct. All of this has led to a significant increase in wanted and unwanted encounters between people of different cultural origins. Cultural differences are more consciously perceived.

We can assume that in the future, like most of the rest of the world, our own society will be increasingly culturally diverse. Immigration from other parts of the world will continue and some of the minority groups living with us will gain weight as a result of higher birth rates compared to that in the majority society. In the individual European societies, the cultural mix is ​​different. In countries such as France or Great Britain it arises from the colonial past, while in the Federal Republic of Germany it has been shaped primarily by the policy of targeted recruitment of labor immigrants since the 1960s and then by the influx of refugees and asylum seekers. We will live in a culturally diverse society, regardless of whether all citizens like it. So it depends on how we deal with the ethnic, religious and cultural minorities.

ten groups live together in our country, which in turn are often very different in themselves.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, there are now 300,000 Buddhists in addition to the 2.7 million Muslims.

Studies such as the one carried out by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Conflict Research at Bielefeld University have recently shown that the refusal of full integration may cost the cultural-religious minority groups living with us a high price. It is important to carefully differentiate between integration and assimilation. While assimilation urges others to give up their being different, integration offers them the chance to participate equally in public, economic and cultural life in society and at the same time recognizes their right to be different. Those among them who do not feel recognized and accepted by the majority society tend to turn increasingly to the cultural identity of their society of origin and to prefer the most aggressive variants of religious-cultural identity formation as a way of compensating for the humiliation and insecurity they have suffered. Successful integration is therefore not only a requirement of the political culture of our society, but a practical necessity for its political and social ability to act.

The fading of the power of persuasion and the cohesiveness of the great overarching ideologies has made cultural and religious differences sharper as a distinguishing feature of groups and societies. Ethnic, religious and cultural affiliation seem to many today to be the last, so to speak, "natural" possibilities of collective identification and mobilization that still remain.

As long as the great ideologies such as liberalism, socialism, communism, conservatism as socio-political projects and as a value-oriented political way of life were hope for many people and in many other societies of the world, culture and religion only seemed to play a secondary role in public life. The time of religious conflicts with their bitter experiences, which the modern culture of tolerance and the peaceful, productive handling of cultural differences had brought about, seemed to be over. Risk to human rights and demo-

The only threats of cracy were intolerant ideologies. Now, the fading of the orientation power of the great ideologies not only makes religion and culture more public awareness as the last great group difference, different religion and cultural affiliations appear to many in the confusing world of the present as the last remaining offer to regain order and clarity. Cultural differences take on a sharper public profile.

It is often overlooked that also within our own culture and even the culture of our own society, due to changes in values ​​and ways of life, the influence of the mass media and education, and the influences that other societies and cultures exert on us, there is also increasing Differentiation of value orientation and way of life, everyday aesthetics and thought patterns, leisure activities and life orientation, i.e. the culture of the social subgroups, can be observed. This inner cultural differentiation in ourselves has considerable effects not only on the way of life, but also on the demarcation and care of the individual in relation to other people and groups in our society and also on political thinking and action, the willingness to become involved and the support of political parties. Although this inner cultural differentiation leads to great differences between individual social milieus and has considerable consequences for the economy, the state and society, it hardly ever plays a role in public discussions about cultural differences. This alone suggests that when cultural differences are emphasized, it is less the differences themselves than their usability for political purposes outside of them that are decisive.

In all parts of the world, in developing countries as well as in the post-communist societies of Eastern Europe, but also in the democratic service societies of the north, unsettling successful attempts can often be observed to politically instrumentalize cultural differences to the extent that they are more consciously perceived. Political leaderships use ethnic, religious and cultural affiliations to polarize groups, drive them into hostility in order to mobilize supporters and to increase their own power. In the ruptures of modernization, especially when threats of social decline, cultural insecurity, economic

For many people, the only promising way out is political fundamentalism, which claims to have the key to solving their existential problems in the return to religious, cultural or ethnic homogeneity.

The superficiality of the misinterpretation is palpable when it comes to conflicts such as those in the collapsed Yugoslavia or the collapsed Soviet Union, but also the civil wars in South Asia, such as the long-lasting conflict between Tamils ​​and Singalese in Sri Lanka or Hindus and Muslims in India or similar Conflicts in other parts of the world, in which speakers of the conflicting parties refer to the cultural differences, are actually interpreted as an expression of the incompatibility of basic cultural values ​​in human coexistence.

The diversity and differentiation of religious beliefs and life are growing, as is the diversity of culturally determined forms of life that are not based on any religious foundation. A thorough examination also reveals social, economic and political causes where the cultural identity politics of fundamentalism is successful.

From the outbreak of violent conflicts between groups whose leaders relate to ethnic, cultural or religious differences to their

To legitimize the position in the conflict, to infer the incompatibility of the religion or cultures that are used for justification, is not only logically a blatant fallacy and, as a scientific thesis, a methodological error of the first order, but contradicts the real experience that we have everywhere on the World can do. The fact that ethnic, cultural and religious differences can also be instrumentalized, as well as other differences in the region, the socio-economic situation, place of residence or professional position, only points to the political exploitation of differences between people in general, but is not the slightest evidence of irreconcilability the basic values ​​that are laid out in different religious and cultural traditions.

In this way, cultural differences, which as such by no means have to burden people's coexistence, but could even be experienced as enrichment, become a source of conflict and enmity. The worldview of the inevitable clash of cultures, within societies and between societies, which is to determine the fate of the 21st century, which the American political scientist Huntington recently brought into the public domain, is already in the process of developing a new ideology for the age after to become the end of the East-West antagonism. It is picked up all over the world and used more and more often as a justification and confirmation of culturally based political power strategies.

The ideology of the clash of civilizations could quickly turn into a worldwide danger that becomes independent and creates the events that it supposedly only describes. While some are actually working on the politicization of cultural difference for the purpose of securing power for different motives, others fear that they too will come together more closely in their own cultural and religious reference groups and have to prepare for hostile disputes, since the others too have such intentions towards them. The cycle of self-confirming prophecy gets under way and serves on all sides to justify refused attempts at understanding, the defense of one's own privileges or aggressive striving for supremacy.

Inner differentiation in cultures and possibilities for consensus between them



Attempts to reach an understanding between representatives of all religions in the world as well as in-depth empirical studies have shown that despite the great differences in the field of salvation teachings, religious symbols and rituals and many elements of everyday life and biographical patterns, the coexistence of people in economy, state and Society shows just as great differences within the large cultures as it does between the cultures themselves. The views of such important norms of human coexistence as the priority of the individual or the priority of the collective, priority for equality or priority for inequality, consent to the tougher values ​​of competition and enforcement or to the softer values ​​of cooperation, empathy, understanding, preference for comprehensive regulations for living together or the liberal openness of society Business structures are just as different and sometimes even more different in societies in the same cultural areas than on average between societies of different cultures.

For public coexistence and cooperation in common public affairs, however, these basic social and political values ​​count and not the individual ideas of salvation or rituals for coping with everyday life. Rather, it shows that in all religions and cultures there is a core of consistent ideas of human dignity and equal treatment of people, which leads to similarities in the area of ​​basic values, which are always sufficient to enable a peaceful and prosperous coexistence between different groups and traditions . Basic rules of mutual respect, respect for human dignity, coexistence in partnership between the sexes, social justice and the justification of political power through the consent of those affected can be found in the traditions of all religions and cultures. In addition, it has been shown that they have all experienced an internal differentiation in the course of the last few centuries, as a result of which modern ideas of the justification of internal differences, tolerance, the greater role in the meaning of

individuals, criticism, democracy and the protection of basic human rights are represented by significant groups updating their cultural traditions.

Fundamentalism, Traditionalism and Modernization



A comparative study of the current situation makes it clear that in all religions and cultures of the world the traditional tradition and the same cultural heritage are differentiated into three opposing styles of civilization.

The traditionalist style of civilization defends the legacy, fends off innovations as far as it can, and tries to save many of the norms, forms of life and interpretations of the world in a rapidly and thoroughly changing world, without being able to hold onto the old rigidly and unchangeably. It is oriented towards defensive responses to the changes in societies in the global world and is ready for the modifications that require its survival in changing conditions.

The modernizing style of civilization, on the other hand, wants to open up traditional culture by recognizing its differences that are developing all over the world, giving individuals more leeway, giving space to the developing pluralism, meanings and forms of life, opinions and interests. He asks about the reasons for the claim to validity of traditions and increasingly recognizes similarities and similarities between his own culture and the other cultures of the world. The younger generation, parts of the educated classes, people in the modern service professions in the fields of culture, information and science, and those involved in internationalized trade relations are particularly inclined to this style of civilization.

The successes of the modernizing style of civilization and the real or supposed threats to one's own cultural tradition through the cultural pressure generated by economic globalization are vehemently fended off by the fundamentalist style of civilization in all religions and cultures of the world. Fundamentalism is the paradoxical attempt to combat the cultural foundations of modernity, pluralism and

Rationality, human rights, tolerance, openness and difference, using the means of modern forms of organization, communication and weapon technology. He wants to set older, closed stages of development of his own history in the different cultures and religions absolutely in order to achieve an immovable foundation of certainty that grants a firm, no longer questionable identity. He wants to make closed thinking, the dogmatization of certain traditions, the basis of social and economic life and the political community, out of the absolute claim to certainty that he makes for the actual essence of his own culture and religion. Fundamentalism refuses to recognize the other, in one's own culture and in other cultures.

None of the world's religions is fundamentalist for all time, fundamentalism is in none of the religions and cultures of the world the undisputed and sole representative of the current interpretation of cultural tradition for the life of people, the constitution, the economy, the state and society .

For a concept of culture that can be understood



Since today almost all societies in the north and also most societies in the south are shaped by religious, cultural and ethnic diversity, such developments, insofar as they actually take place, but also the ideology that drives them, threaten the foundations of social coexistence, of social peace and the ability to take political action profoundly. They massively jeopardize the realization of a policy based on fundamental values, the guarantee of human rights for all individual groups and the solution of the actual political problems that societies are facing.

The globalization of markets has implications for social security and the economic well-being of large groups of workers. The global endangerment of the ecological foundations of human society, the protection of the global climate and the safeguarding of peace demand a new quality of global political cooperation today. Political cooperation, however, is not possible where cultural differences are made an occasion for political hostility. A minimum of willingness to communicate, to recognize common challenges

demands and survival conditions are necessary if political cooperation is to be successful.

In today's globalized world, the traditional concept of culture, which goes back to Herder and relates cultures to homogeneous ethnic groups and sees individuals as completely enclosed and melted down in their cultures, needs a thorough revision anyway. The old idea from the early days of modernity, according to which cultures act like crystal balls, which rigidly and tightly seal everything that belongs to them, and only allow the form of collision between each other, no longer corresponds to reality anywhere. Today it is not only wrong, but also disastrous and dangerous.

Everywhere we see that cultures differ to a great extent internally and that there are just as great differences in the continuation of the same cultural traditions as between cultures. A trained engineer in India differs more from the farmer in the village on the outskirts of his city than from his professional colleague in the USA or Japan. The same applies to members of many other professional groups and milieus. Under the influence of global mass communication, the assimilation of many professional roles, contact with other cultures through travelers and as travelers, through advertising and in many other ways, cultures in the present are more like liquids that mix and also within the individual societies and lead to very different combinations, accents, life patterns, ways of thinking and orientations within the same cultural framework. For this reason alone, the delimitation of cultures from one another according to the old model of the crystal ball is a misconception today.

Opportunities for political cooperation



Religious and cultural differences do not have to put a strain on the peaceful coexistence of different groups and milieus within the same society. They do not prevent common and equal citizenship in the political community. The Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1994, the forums of many UNO conferences and numerous other occasions have shown that an understanding on the fundamental values ​​of human dignity, peace and

living together, tolerance, shared responsibility and a justly organized world economy based on all religions and cultures is possible if understanding is really attempted.

We have to build on these encouraging experiences of successful understanding between different religions, cultures and ethics if we want to counteract the forces with the prospect of success that instrumentalize such differences politically in the interests of their own power and if we want to broaden and secure the foundations who alone can achieve the global political cooperation that is required for the survival of mankind today.

In order to keep development opportunities open in our own societies, to further develop the political culture of democracy and to maintain and improve our political options for action, we must ensure in our own societies that fundamentalism, cultural separatism or the politics of apartheid do not gain the upper hand, but tolerance is promoted so that cultural differences are experienced as an enrichment of our possibilities of experience and not as a source of fear and threat.

All over the world, however, it is also evident that it is not enough to point out the self-destructive effects of fundamentalism in order to curb its influence, unless at the same time credible and energetic work is carried out to overcome the socio-economic and political crises that cause numerous people. to see only in the temptation to cultural hostility the way to improve their own life.

The Lisbon Group recently proposed an initiative in 1996 to enable serious progress in global cooperation to tackle global problems. Since cultural understanding is one of the foundations of cooperation in all other areas and cultural blockades would seriously hinder all other forms of cooperation, one of the most important suggestions made by the Lisbon group is the "Global Cultural Treaty" it proposed. Its general idea is aimed at Intensification and broadening of the intercultural dialogue so that as many citizens as possible can learn about other religions

Understanding and appreciating the regions and cultures of the world and knowing how to deal with them without fear and in a relaxed manner.

As a first step on this path, the group suggests, among other things, that intercultural dialogue should be practiced specifically in some of the world's major cities for a specified period and that the mass media, social institutions and initiatives, foundations, etc., should make special contributions. In this way, understanding of all cultures involved can be gained and understanding can be practiced in practice. Such projects can take place alternately in the most important centers in the world. Its course and the results can be documented and communicated in many other parts of the world through the participation of the mass media.

Institutions can also be created for the durability of intercultural dialogues, be it at the UN or its sub-organizations, be it on the basis of citizens' initiatives. Some smaller countries are asked to submit a report every two or three years on the state of intercultural dialogue in the world, to develop proposals based on the successes or failures so far, and to promote the intensity, scope and public effectiveness of the forms of this dialogue.

In this way, the factual ground can be removed from the forces interested in the political instrumentalization of cultural differences, if only because it can be seen everywhere that understanding between cultures on public affairs, regardless of continuing differences in questions of faith and questions of Life is always possible if it is truly wanted.

European Union: A culturally diverse political community



The treatment of Turkey's wish for integration into the European Union is not only important in terms of foreign policy, it is also of the greatest importance for European internal policy. If Turkey were to remain marginalized for religious reasons, that would be a long-lasting signal for the Muslims in the European majority societies.

At the Luxembourg summit, eleven Eastern European countries were given a concrete prospect of membership in the EU. Turkey, which can look back on the oldest association treaty, was not nominated as a future candidate for membership. The country was only offered to take part in the regular European conferences. This decision brought the question of the identity, the internal constitution and goals of the EU back to the political agenda.

Terms like "European standards", "European culture" are often used in relation to the accession of other countries to the EU, but filling these terms with content seems difficult. What is striking about the definition of a European culture is that there is talk of unifying roots in "ancient cultures" and the unifying "Christian religion". In connection with the discussion of Turkey's accession to the EU, Islam was also argued. Turkey is an Islamic country, as the participation of an Islamist party in government in 1996/97 had shown. The Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Bernd Seite, stated that Turkey, as an Islamic country, does not belong in the EU.

It should not be forgotten that the Christian religion, described as the unifying factor in Europe, originated in the Orient. With her, oriental ideas came to Western Europe and were adapted to local conditions. If one wants to designate "Christianity" as the unifying element of Europe, one does not take into account that as long as the Christian religion actually still played a role in Europe, it was by no means always only unifying. Let us only refer to the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants , Protestants and Orthodox, etc., whose offshoots can still be seen today in the Irish conflict, for example.Furthermore, the deep religiosity of the inhabitants of some rural areas of Europe has much more in common with that of Muslim believers in rural areas of Turkey than with the urban lifestyle of members of the respective own nationality.

To exclude Turkey from Europe as part of the Orient contradicts the constantly propagated European idea - the Europe of diversity and different cultures. Such an attitude not only puts a strain on foreign policy relations, but also makes it more difficult for people of different religions to live together in peace

Europe. There are now over seven million Muslims in the member states of the EU, 2.7 million of them in the Federal Republic of Germany alone. By emphasizing the "cultural otherness" due to religion, "foreigners" who also live within the borders of Europe are constructed. Integration is called for, but exclusion is practiced: Last but not least, it is also political measures that make Turkish migrants aware of the exclusion. One example is the visa requirement for children from non-EU countries introduced in March 1997.

The Turkish public, both in Europe and in Turkey, reacts more sensitively to the attitude of the EU, perceived as "fundamental rejection", than is perceived in Europe. The feeling of disappointment leads increasingly to a withdrawal from Europe and, in the case of migrants, from the majority society The dangers of self-isolation and radicalization must be recognized here. Nationalist / Islamist currents would be reinforced in their arguments by a persistently negative attitude on the part of the EU.

It should be emphasized that Turkey, in the political sense, is not an Islamic, but a secular state. The principle of secularism is one of the unchangeable pillars of the Turkish constitution and has determined the country's political culture for over 70 years. Turkey, as the north-western pillar of the Islamic world, always had a wide variety of exchanges with Western European societies and was exposed to influences from Western Europe. Islam in Turkey, as it is understood and practiced by the majority society there, does not contradict the Western understanding of democracy. What is more, the democracy-oriented Islamic element can also be seen as capital and not as an obstacle that Turkey would bring into the EU. In addition, a "European culture" cannot be described with clear classifications and limitations, since the identity and culture of a society is increasingly multidimensional and characterized by dynamic change. The emphasis on a "common European identity" against an Islamic society therefore seems less real Presence than to be justified in their instrumentalization as a political means.

For the European Union as a community of values ​​based on fundamental political values, it is a matter of course that Turkey, like

all full members fully meet the conditions of the rule of law, respect for minorities in their country, gender equality and democracy and, if they are not currently doing so, endeavor to make appropriate improvements. However, what cannot be used as an argument in favor of obstructing Turkey's accession efforts is the fact that it is a country with an Islamic majority society. On the contrary, in the culturally diverse Europe that already exists today and that is increasingly emerging, based on the points outlined above, the following enriching factors for the political and cultural integrative power of the EU can be named for Turkey's full EU membership :

  • Turkey as an Islamic society and European state can act as a cultural bridge between the states of the Near and Middle East and Europe. And thus create the basic prerequisites for political and economic cooperation with these states.
  • Turkey, as the only Islamic majority society in Europe in the future, could be an identity-building and integrative factor for the Muslims living in Europe. Existing interreligious and intercultural tensions could thus be reduced and prevented for the future.
  • As a full member of the European Community, Turkey, with its secular state principle, could serve as a role model for the newly constituting Turkic republics of the former Soviet Union and the Balkan states, and thus establish a connection to these states that would be of great political and economic advantage for the EU.
  • The Turkish population has traditionally been strongly oriented towards Europe in terms of its cultural values. It can therefore only be in the interest of the Europeans to strengthen their self-confidence by accepting Turkey as a full member of the EU, in order to guarantee a deeper anchoring and dissemination of European culture and ideas in Turkey.
  • Democracy and the rule of law in Turkey could be encouraged and promoted through full membership in the EU.



The Federal Republic: A culturally diverse society



Developments in our own living environment, in European societies and in the Federal Republic of Germany, encourage people to turn to fundamentalist seduction. The increasing complexity of our societies makes the environment appear to a growing number of people not only as confusing, but as opaque or even threatening, and their uncertainty grows. The other, the misunderstood, can quickly become a threat from which the artificial certainties of fundamentalism, which reduces the world to a few absolutely set black-and-white schemes, can save. Mechanisms of prejudice formation that we know from the history of our society, such as the mixing of the close-up image and the distant image of the other. Because for example Islam is used to justify violence in other parts of the world, according to the reports that are given daily in the media, some project this distant image onto their Muslim neighbors in their own culture because they really do not know them at all. In addition, the spirit of postmodernism often leads to a cynical, playful relationship to the values ​​of morality, to the claim to truth, to the obligations of a responsible lifestyle. Fundamentalism can also appear as the clear alternative of a serious and responsible life based on truth and commitment, even in the reaction to such cynicism, which many consider to be the core of a value-forgotten, consumerist way of life in the West.

Western, Christian-occidental culture only became the culture of modernity through the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, entirely on the basis of Christian-Occidental tradition, has the claims of the individual that it contained, the role of reason which was not alien to it, the right to difference and the right of people to basic rights and participation in questions of the political community radicalized and thus laid the foundations for the culture of modernity. There are approaches to self-enlightenment in all religions and cultures of the world; as a result of the differences in the history of their societies, they have made different progress. Promoting the self-enlightenment of the different religions and cultures from within can only be their own business. Dialogues and attempts to reach understanding between cultures based on curiosity and the willingness to recognize

They can support and advance wherever there is a willingness to do so, more likely than any attempt at instruction and supervision from outside.

The core of the recognition of human dignity, which is contained in all religions and cultures, is capable of development. We must insist uncompromisingly on the universality of human rights, to which representatives of all cultures and states have repeatedly affirmed on behalf of the United Nations. Wherever it is questioned in the name of cultural self-assertion, we must defend it uncompromisingly, especially so as not to deny the minorities in other cultures of the world, who are moving everywhere, the right to their own kind of religious and cultural self-assertion. The questioning of human rights in the name of cultural identity is often done with the intention of denying the other and new in one's own culture the right to recognition.

Here in the worlds of the Federal Republic of Germany, where a growing number of young Turkish labor emigrants of the third generation are turning to fundamentalist identification offers because they are disappointed by the lack of willingness to integrate in our society and their desire for personal recognition is violated, as in many of our neighboring countries In the future, in our immediate worlds, the questions of the practical determination of the relationship between cultural self-assertion and community rights will increase in importance and vehemence and probably also in conflict. With 2.7 million followers, Islam is the largest religious minority in the Federal Republic of Germany; the vast majority of Muslims are Turkish labor emigrants. While the first generation of Turkish labor emigrants was mainly oriented towards returning to their home country soon, the return orientation of the second and third generation has clearly decreased. Thus, the majority society must also adjust to the fact that an ethnic and religious minority will remain for a longer period of time. The "other" becomes more visible; it is of decisive importance for our society, for social integration and for the political culture of democracy that the "other" is not made into a "foreign" and thus a permanent one through ignorance, indifference or intolerance We have to be a source of conflict within the majority society itself and in intercultural

Clarify real dialogue with the religious minorities, such as answering practical questions such as Islamic burial sites, mosques, consideration of Muslim minorities in care for the elderly, so that all those involved can feel recognized and accepted in their rights and cultural identity claims.

All over the world, Islam is highly differentiated and anything but a homogeneous dogma with a homogeneous way of life and a uniform conception of the relationship between society and politics. In addition to more traditionalist Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and the fundamentalist prime example of Iran, Turkey in particular provides an example of a more secular interpretation of Islam, which was based on the separation of religion and state, public life and private practice of religion. In Turkey itself and in Muslim communities elsewhere in Europe, especially among the younger generation of Muslim migrant workers in European countries, something new is emerging within Islam, a kind of "Euro-Islam" in which a loose form of private religious orientation is taking place with an open social way of life as well as the turn to democracy, tolerance and human rights. Not only the turn to fundamentalist views and organizations among some of the Turkish youth in the Federal Republic, but also the training of such a modern "Euro-Islam" characterizes the development of Islam in countries like the Federal Republic.

Practical answers to the new challenges are required for the social and political cohesion of society in the Federal Republic of Germany. In doing so, the line of distinction between the recognition of the rule of law for democracy and pluralism on the one hand and the religiously determined ways of life of various minorities must be drawn carefully and tolerantly, but also clearly. For example, it seems important to us that all pupils take part in the entire curriculum of the lesson and that exceptions requested by parts of the religious minorities are not permitted, so that the cohesion of society as a whole is not called into question at school. It makes a difference whether Islamic schoolgirls come to school with a headscarf, which they cannot be denied, and whether their parents want their parents to be exempt from part of the common lessons, e.g. B. gymnastics, demand what is in the interest of social integration

ion should not be encouraged. For an appropriate reciprocal relationship between cultural identity and recognition of a common political culture in our country, Islamic religious instruction in our schools would be important, for which German and Turkish representatives and Islamic scholars are jointly responsible, so that it is in the spirit of the curriculum in our schools can be inserted throughout and can also meet the religious demands of Muslims. The constitution of the Islamic religious community as a corporation under public law could be an important step in this direction. Why shouldn't the Islamic mosques be allowed to make their call to prayer at least once a week in such a way and with the volume that corresponds to their own ideas of the appropriate rite? Minorities in the Federal Republic can orientate themselves on the same regulation.

Seek communication



So that the foreign does not remain foreign, but can become a recognized other and so that the other cannot be made foreign anew, not only abstract information about other religions and cultures is required, but active tolerance. Active tolerance means, on the one hand, curious, appreciation-ready and understanding-oriented conversations with others, but also the willingness to share experiences and activities with others, in the world of life, in social life, in the professional and working world, in the shared concern for them Children, about school affairs, about an intact environment and about everything that goes beyond the difference in cultural self-image and is shared by people who share a living environment and belonging to a political community.


© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | December 1999