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«A Comparative Case Study of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland by Melanie Liese B.A. School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies ...»

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While religious symbols are used visually to portray difference, some texts directly address religious difference as well. In the story “Warum gibt es eigentlich Ostern?” [Why do we actually have Easter?] (Das Auer Lesebuch 4, p.118, Appendix B, p.IX), for example, Güneş tells the reader that even though she likes colourful Easter eggs, for her and her family Easter is “ein fremdes Fest, weil [sie] eine andere Religion haben” [is a foreign celebration because they have a different religion] (ibid). Furthermore, she clarifies that they are Muslims. The adjective „fremd‟ directly accentuates difference between the Christian majority and the Muslim minority in Germany. When Güneş informs readers beforehand that she was six when she arrived in Germany and, although she speaks German at school, she always speaks Turkish at home with her family (ibid), an indirect link is established between her Turkish origins and the Muslim faith, i.e., Turkish people are also Muslims.

Religious difference is the central theme in “Weihnachten und Zuckerfest” [Christmas and Eid al-Fitr] (Piri 3, pp.166-167, Appendix B, p.XXIV) where both festivities are discussed and compared. When Hussein, who is a Muslim (ibid, p.166), asks his teacher why he should learn a Christmas poem when he does not celebrate Christmas his teacher admits: “Darüber habe ich noch nie nachgedacht.” [I have never thought about that before] (ibid, p.166). Subsequently the class discusses Islam and what festivities Muslims celebrate. While Dilara and Berkant explain Ramadan and the celebrations on Eid al-Fitr, the reader is told “warum Dilara, Hussein, Kübra und all die anderen Kinder meiner Klasse, deren Eltern Moslems sind, nicht Weihnachten feiern: Sie haben eine andere Religion” [why Dilara, Hussein, Kübra and all the other children in my class, whose parents are Muslims, do not celebrate Christmas: They have a different religion] (ibid, p.167).

5.2.4.2 Religious Difference Portrayed in Visual Images

“Spaziergänge mit Papa” [Walks with Dad] (Das Lesebuch 3, pp.30-34, see book), examines the concept of difference through a dialogue-style narrative between a father and his daughter. An accompanying image shows a group of tourists are shown as wearing head scarves and skull caps indicating their Islamic background.

Their ethnic and cultural difference is highlighted within the text as they are speaking a non-European language (ibid, p.31) and are seen as not fitting into a German context by both father and daughter: “Die Leute kommen bestimmt von weit her. Wie Touristen, die zum Wandern hergekommen sind wie wir, sehen sie nicht aus.” [These people probably come from far away. But they do not look like tourists, who, like us came here for walking.] (ibid). The daughter replies: “Ich finde, sie passen nicht hier her.” [I think they do not fit in here] (ibid).

Two female characters are illustrated as being Muslim in “Picknick bei Aischa” [Picnic with Aischa] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, p.149, see book) as both women wear a headscarf. An indication of the family‟s Lebanese origins is made in the text as Aischa refers to her aunt in Lebanon (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, p.149).

In an effort to show solidarity with Vimala, who has been discriminated against on the grounds of her ethnic and cultural origins at school, the images in “Vimala gehört zu uns” [Vimala is one of us] (Papiertiger 4, pp.184-187, Appendix B, p.XXI-XXII) portray her classmates as each wearing a tikka on their foreheads (ibid, pp.186-187). The tikka is mostly associated with Hinduism. Here, the religious reference in the picture (Image 5) acts as a predication to her Indian roots, which are mentioned in the text (ibid, p.184) in the way that the headscarf seems to be a supplement to the Turkish reference in the texts mentioned above. The students‟

attention is drawn to this particular aspect of the image as one of the questions asks:

“Was seht ihr auf dem Bild, was im Text nicht erzählt wird?” [What do you see in the picture that is not referred to in the text?] (ibid, p.187). The answer would be the wearing of the tikka, which is not mentioned in the text.

–  –  –

Similarly, in “Soham und Issa” [Soham and Issa] (Das Lesebuch 3, p.29, see book), the characters are introduced as having Persian names by a reference underneath the text: “Soham und Issa sind persische Vornamen (Issa=Jesus)” [Soham and Issa are Persian first names (Issa=Jesus)]. The text is accompanied by a picture of the two siblings with Soham wearing a head scarf, perhaps a reference to her Muslim family background.

5.2.4.3 Religious Difference portrayed in Text and Visual Images

Furthermore, in “Tante Wilma riecht nach Knoblauch” [Aunt Wilma smells of Garlic] (Überall ist Lesezeit 4, pp.58-60, see book) a Turkish family moves into Aunt Wilma‟s house. The visual images, representing parts of the story, also show the female members of the family wearing head scarves (ibid, pp.59-60), which defines them as Muslims. Additionally, the Turkish family is referred to within the text as not being Christians: “Und es sind nicht einmal Christen!” [And they are not even Christians!] (ibid, p.59).

5.2.5 Hostility

Under this sub-category the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is presented in the textbooks examined as experiencing hostility from members of the German majority because of his/ her ethnic and cultural origin. As racial discrimination and xenophobia present a problem in many multicultural societies, some of these texts perhaps aim to raise awareness and to encourage critical discussion. Reference to the ethnic and cultural „other‟ experiencing hostility in Germany/ German context has been detected in 13 texts.





In the text “Vimala gehört zu uns” [Vimala is one of us] (Papiertiger 4, pp.184-187, Appendix B, p.XXI-XXII) three older children are seen to like picking on the younger children, “am liebsten aber die türkischen Kinder” [but in particular on the Turkish children] (ibid, p.184). They also harass Vimala discriminating against her on grounds of her skin colour: “Wie siehst du denn aus?”, riefen sie laut. “Bist du in einem Farbtopf gefallen?” Und sie lachten laut.” [What do you look like?, they shouted. Did you fall into a paint pot? And they laughed loudly.] (ibid, p.184). When Vimala and her classmates played in the playground in the afternoon, she

experienced more abuse from Lea and her friends:

“Hee, Ausländer haben hier nichts zu suchen!” Sie fanden das lustig. Wir wollten gerne ein bisschen schaukeln und hatten gar keine Lust wegzugehen.

Da warfen sie Vimalas Jacke in die Luft. “Hol sie dir doch, du Neger19!”, schrien sie und lachten (ibid, p.185).

–  –  –

The story ends with Vimala‟s classmates taking a stand against Lea and her friends as the whole class protects her and accompanies Vimala to school, because: “Wer sie wegen ihrer Hautfarbe ärgert, kriegt es mit uns zu tun.” [Whoever picks on her because of her skin colour will have to deal with us.] (ibid, p.187). The text, which This is a direct quote. The author is aware that the language used here and in the translation is very offensive.

appears in two different textbooks, is followed by comprehension exercises in both instances. However, none of the comprehension questions or tasks challenge or discuss the offensive language used against Vimala.

Kenan, who gets into a fight with a boy from school in “Christina – Freunde gibt es überall” [Christina – Friends are everywhere] (Tintenklecks 4, pp.14-15, Appendix B, p.XXVIII), also experiences hostility and verbal abuse: “Tanz doch mal Zigeunerchen, los, komm!” [Dance gypsy, go, come on!] and “Warum hast du heute bloß deine Geige zu Hause gelassen?” [Why did you leave your fiddle at home today then?] (ibid, p.14). The Sinti and Roma in Germany, for whom „Zigeuner‟ is often used in a discriminative manner, reject the term (Duden, p.1141).

Consequently, because of its disparaging nature the term is not in use anymore. It is not explained whether Kenan is a member of the Sinti and Roma community, but the word is used offensively against Kenan who is of (former) Yugoslavian origin. The negative language used against Kenan remains uncontested as no reference is made in the comprehension section which follows the text. The fiddle here is dismissively associated with the traditional music of the Sinti and Roma.

Negative language also features in the text “Wir sind fünf” [We are five] (Das Auer Lesebuch 4, p.37, Appendix B, p.X). Here an unnamed boy from Italy is met with unfriendliness by some children: “Warum der immer rumsteht!”, sagte Ante. “Ist doch klar”, sagte Florian. “Der will zu uns, der Itaker. ”Er trat einen Stein in die Richtung des fremden Jungen.” [“Why does he always have to stand around!”, said Ante. “It‟s obvious”, said Florian. “He wants to come to us, the Eyetie.” He kicked a stone in the direction of the foreign boy.] (ibid, p.37). As the boy grins and kicks the stone back, the children discuss different stereotypes and later befriend him.

However, the use of the pejorative term “Itaker” [Eyetie], used for someone from Italy, remains unchallenged as it is not discussed in the text or in a comprehension section.

A list of hostilities towards the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is made in the text “Jan kommt aus Deutschland” [Jan comes from Germany] (Jo-Jo 4, pp.68-71, see book) as Jan is worried about his experiences. The text states how people in Germany believe “es gäbe zu viele Ausländer und diese sollten lieber zu Hause bleiben” [there are too many foreigners and they should stay at home] (ibid, p.70).

Furthermore, violence towards the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is exposed:

Vor einer Woche hat jemand mit schwarzer Farbe “Ausländer raus” auf die Schulhofmauer geschrieben. Und neulich ist ein Afrikaner von Jugendlichen irgendwo in Deutschland aus einer Straßenbahn geworfen und getötet worden. Und das nur, weil er schwarz war wie Abedi, sein Freund. In Jans neuer Klasse gibt es viele türkische Kinder und einen Jungen aus Kenia.

“Mit Türken spiele ich nicht”, hat neulich eines der deutschen Kinder gesagt (ibid, pp.70-71).

[One week ago someone wrote “foreigners out” in black on the wall of the schoolyard. And recently an African was killed somewhere in Germany because he was thrown out of a tram by youths. And only because he was black like Abedi, his friend. In Jan‟s new class there are many Turkish children and one boy from Kenya. “I don‟t play with Turks”, said one of the German children recently.] The boy from Kenya is called Paul and is Jan‟s friend. As has been mentioned before, he too has received hostile comments from an older man because of his darker skin colour.

Just as one of the students in Jan‟s class is seen as not playing with Turkish children, Micha in “Gökan hat Mut” (Das Auer Lesebuch 3, pp.82-83, Appendix B, p.VIIVIII) is told by a boy in his class “dass wir nicht mit den Türken reden sollten” [that we should not talk to the Turks] (ibid, p.82).

The newspaper article style text “Gewalt auf Klassenfahrt” [Violence on a School Outing] (Papiertiger 4, p.183, Appendix B, p. XXIII) also focuses on aggression towards „others‟ as German, Arabic and Turkish students are verbally harassed with “ausländerfeindlichen Parolen” [xenophobic slogans] by local youth (ibid, p.183) while on a school outing. As a result of a violent conflict, one of the Turkish students was slightly injured (ibid, p.183). The article is accompanied by a picture of protesters who march against racism and xenophobia. Two questions discuss the issue of xenophobia in Germany and make a link to Article 3 of the German Constitution. The content of Article 3, which deals with equality for all before the law, is displayed on the same page.

The slogan “Ausländer raus!”, which is commonly used by xenophobic groups against ethnic and cultural „others‟, was also written on the blackboard in the classroom of the third grade shown in the text “Warum kommen die Ausländer zu uns?” [Why do the foreigners come to us?] (Tipi Lesebuch 4, pp.90-91, see book).

Although one of the students wants to wipe it off, the teacher is shown to use this opportunity to challenge and discuss hostility against the „other‟ and to explain possible reasons for immigration to Germany.



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