Monday, November 16, 2009

Turkish apostate of Islam from Germany

[Posted by blog co-author]

The following video has been transcribed for easy reading.
You can find the transcription below the video.

I've only known the world through the mosque or the Turks or the Muslims. German kids or families, I knew nothing about that.
Betuel is 23, single, and was born and raised in Germany. She began her university studies in chemistry one year ago.
When I was young, I wanted to wear a headscarf, because my mother wore a headscarf and kids often want to do things they see their mothers do. Also, it wasn't as though I looked any different from the other kids in my community.
Betuel's parents, who immigrated to Germany from Turkey, are deeply religious. Since Betuel was five, she wore a headscarf, prayed five times a day, and attended a Koran school every weekend.
I embraced the fundamentalist idea since I was a kid. I accepted and believed everything that I was told. I never questioned the preaching, even if they were preaching hate. My parents deemed them righteous and irreproachable, and I simply accepted that.
In Betuel's childhood years, she had no exposure to the life outside of the Turkish community. This was the case even in her elementary school. She was raised in an isolated, religious, fundamentalist environment and spoke very little German. It was only when she entered high school that her classmates were predominantly German, and she was introduced to the world outside the strict teachings of her religion and her community.
In high school, I distanced myself from my German classmates who were Christians. I didn't want anything to do with these awful, unbelieving Germans, whom I believed were going straight to hell. They avoided me too; I dressed differently and had different beliefs and views on everything. So, the hate and rejection went both ways – from my side and from their side also.
Betuel, however, could not bear her role of being an 'outsider' forever. She no longer wanted to cover herself. But she knew her parents would never allow this. Nor would they allow her reading secular books, listening to music, or meeting friends. All were forbidden. The gap between her life and that of her classmates were very clear.
Then I started to wonder about the things other kids were allowed to do, even the simplest things such as going shopping with friends or going out to eat an ice cream. I wondered if there was any logic or sense in my not being allowed to partake in such activities, whether it really was 'dangerous' for me, as told by my parents or if it's rather nonsensical that I am forbidden from doing any of these harmless, normal activities.
When Betuel turned thirteen, her doubts against the Islamic teachings grew. She went to her Koran school less frequently, and eventually, stopped going. By this time, living with her family members in the same household became increasingly difficult.
Not only did I want to listen to secular music, I wanted to also go out and attend concerts, go to the theatre. And do what I felt like doing. To wear whatever I wanted to wear and to think what I wanted to think – the urge to do so grew. And when I noticed that I was not allowed to do any of these things as a result of being locked up in a small, restricted world, then came the doubt. I thought to myself, what can I do about this, what can I do to change?

The only solution was to tell my parents that I did not see everything the way they saw things. For example, I was very curious with natural science. But because of my religion, I never even considered for a moment about theories such as evolution. Whereas, stories about Adam and Eve, and all others, I had to accept with no question. Even though there were things that are simply incompatible with our scientific explanations today.
Left alone with her doubts, she could no longer bear to hide her longing for freedom. When she was nineteen, she told her mother the truth, and told her that she wanted to stop wearing her headscarf and stop believing in Islam.
My mother tried to tell me that she sometimes felt the same way when she was young, but that, we must suppress such thoughts, regardless of how often these thoughts try to tempt us. She told me it was not uncommon to have these thoughts. Then I tried to make it clear to her that this was not just a temporary distraction. What I meant was for good.
Things did not go well. Difficulty lay ahead of her, particularly one summer when Betuel and her family went to visit Turkey, their homeland. There, Betuel's parents explained to her their real plan: her passport would be taken away; she would remain in Turkey and attend a Koran school there, so that she would come to her senses, eventually.
Only with her uncle's intervention, she was able to return to Germany. Shortly after that, she left her parents' home permanently, and found a Germany family to live with. There she received attention and support she always longed for. She finished her Abitur (final high school exam) and entered the university to study chemistry.
What I needed the most and considered the most important, was to have someone who would show patience and understanding with me – someone who is willing to stand by me and actually try to understand me. I needed someone to tell me that what I was doing was in fact not 'wrong', but right. The first time I removed my headscarf, when I felt the wind blow through my hair; that was such a lovely feeling. I still remember it very well.
She has not completely been able to shake off all the ethical and moral requirements of the religion she grew up with. They act as a blockade, as she tries to move on and enjoy her new life.
It also takes a bit of time, to get used to all the changes, such as, being confident and being able to stand on one's own, and having the freedom to dress nicely, dress freely, and even wear bikinis, like the other girls do, which was a bit difficult for me to get used to, because here you show a lot of skin. It’s completely different from what I was used to in the past, where I had to be covered as much as possible. But at the same time, it makes one feel very free.
Today she feels rather distant from the Turkish community and its people she knows that they would not approve of her new life as it brings dishonour.
Within the Turkish circle, people are still very conservative. It is very important to remain single/virgin. If one was to have a boyfriend then people would be quick to judge and give you a disapproving look. There are always these very rigid behavioural standards/ideas that women are supposed to adhere to, which aren't fully compatible with that of mine.
Despite the dispute with her parents, Betuel has nevertheless kept some sporadic contact with her family. Most of all, she would like to see her little sister. But she does not speak of her previous life, her previous thoughts, and her previous friends. They remain a taboo.
My biggest wish is for my relationship with my parents to be better, for them to accept my life as it is now, and for them to tell me what they understand.

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