Germany: "Why am I not German?"

Germany: "Why am I not German?"

In the vestibule of Germany's largest mosque, identity is complicated.

Zehra Yilmaz says her German passport will get her into a voting booth on election day, but her Turkish name and Muslim head scarf kept her out of apartments she tried to rent. She has lived in Germany since she was 2, but her home has been in Turkish enclaves segregated from the rest of Germany by language, culture and a mutual belief that one day the foreigners would go home.

"I'm not really Turkish, and I'm not really German," says Zehra Yilmaz, 46.


Children born in Germany since 2000 have an automatic right to citizenship, but they must decide between ages 18 and 23. If they choose to be German, they must give up citizenship in their parents' country.

Ken Eis, 23, is caught in the middle. Born in Nigeria to a German mother and Nigerian father, his mother's citizenship gives him the option to be German. But the Kreuzberg resident, who has lived in Germany since he was 14, doesn't plan to stay much longer.

"This is one of the few nations that still holds on to its nationalism," said Eis, who is unemployed. He plans to return to Nigeria to try to find a job. "I don't see a future for me in Germany."

Yilmaz knows the feeling.

"When I was 14, I was crying in my pillow at night, 'Why am I not German?' The Germans didn't accept me as a whole German girl. I didn't wear a head scarf at this time. I wore normal German clothes. But I have a foreign name. I am a foreigner for them," she said. In her frustration, she vowed to return to her family's roots.

Then she visited Ankara, her family's ancestral city, and saw how different gender norms affected the country's women.

"They are not like me," Yilmaz said. "In Turkey, I have no rights as a woman. I can't be active as a woman. ... My home is in Germany. It is in Duisburg."


Source: Pittsburgh Tribune Revie

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