Germany: "I really don't want to be racist, but things are pretty bad"

Germany: "I really don't want to be racist, but things are pretty bad"

Recently various Turkish and German leaders have been telling Turks to learn German. Turns out speaking German is not the (only) problem.

Via Deutsche Welle:
Germans are embroiled in a debate on how well integration has functioned in the country. Children and teenagers with immigrant backgrounds live and learn side-by-side with Germans - the potential for conflict is huge.

A group of teenagers is playing soccer on a field in Tannenbusch, a northern suburb of the western German city of Bonn. Nina is from Kasakhstan, Nicolas's parents moved to Germany from Portugal, Yann's dad is French. Jan is the only German. The group mirrors the situation in a suburb considered a social hot spot, where only one out of four citizens is German.

"From an early age on, we grow up with different cultures, so we're used to it," says Nicolas. They all speak German - that is their common language.

The Tannenbusch tenements, far from downtown Bonn, were built about 40 years ago, when the city urgently needed housing for the many foreign embassy employees. But after unification, Bonn lost its status as Germany's capital, and in 1999, the government moved to the new capital, Berlin. The diplomatic missions followed suit, taking with them their employees, and leaving behind empty tenements.

Today, ethnic Germans from Russia live in Tannenbusch, along with asylum-seekers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who live in dismal high rises that Jan calls the "barracks."

Unemployment, violence and crime come with the turf. Yann says the situation at the local high school is not as bad because there are fewer foreigners, but even there, he has encountered violence.

"If I go out at night, then always in a large group," Yann says. "I really don't want to be racist, but things are pretty bad."

Tall grey tenement buildings tower next to the local shopping center, which is housed is in an ugly concrete building complex, a noisy place where children and teenagers loiter during the day. Most are of Moroccan, Syrian, Albanian and Kurdish descent. Sometimes they are best friends, sometimes they fight. Zacharia was three years old when his family moved to Bonn from Morocco, he says. Bored, he and his friend Hilal do their best to annoy passersby.

The Germans are okay, they say. But they try to avoid and ignore a certain boy from Afghanistan. At school, Hilal says, he was once hit in the head by a bit of chalk: "I went ballistic and threw my school bag at his head." The teacher reprimanded both boys, and their parents grounded them. The boys agree that it's best to keep the police and one's families out of disputes.